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Packers Reportedly Showing Interest in Free Agent LB Manny Lawson

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Packers Reportedly Showing Interest in Free Agent LB Manny Lawson

The Green Bay Packers may finally be getting serious about upgrading their outside linebacker position opposite Clay Matthews.

Days after inquiring about released linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, the Packers are now engaging in preliminary talks with free-agent pass rusher Manny Lawson. Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported the Packers' interest in the 27-year-old through a league source.

The Green Bay Packers have interest in free agent linebacker Manny Lawson, according to a league source. The two sides have been in discussions.

With a week gone in free agency and the market slowly cooling, it makes sense that Packers GM Ted Thompson would start to gauge the interest of a player like Lawson. Players at this point in free agency can typically found at bargain prices.

A visit for Lawson in Green Bay has yet to be scheduled.

While not an elite pass-rusher by any means, Lawson has proven to be a stout run-defender and skilled coverage linebacker. On just under 500 defensive snaps last season with the Cincinnati Bengals, he graded out as the No. 14 overall 4-3 linebacker against the run and allowed just a 74.7 passer rating on passes thrown his way.

Yet for a man his size (6-5, 240 lbs.) and athletically gifted (sub 4.45 40-yard dash, 39" vertical), getting to the quarterback has been a challenge. In six NFL seasons, Lawson has just 16 career sacks and a ceiling season of 6.5 in 2009. He has just four total sacks over the last two years as a member of both the San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals.

Given Lawson's pass-rushing difficulties, it remains very likely that, even if Lawson is signed, Thompson would still have to bring in a situational rusher to platoon on obvious passing situations.

The Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals are also rumored to be interested in Lawson, so there remains a good chance that the price exceeds what Thompson ultimately wants to pay.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (66) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jmac34's picture

I would really like this signing because even if he doesn't improve the pass rush it sounds like he can cover which has been lacking in the Packers LB core. The fact that he can stop the run is also nice because Walden always seemed to get sucked inside and would give up the edge which led to big plays by the opposing team

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Totally disagree. His inability to rush the passer should take him off the table. The problem with our OLB position opposite Clay is that they don't make the opposing offense honor their pass rush... Taking zero pressure off Clay and allowing him to be taken out of plays by double teams, I don't see how Lawson changes that.

An OLB in the 34 MUST at least have the ability to rush the passer for the system to work as designed, all other traits are secondary to that. Including pass coverage.

Kparis99's picture

Adding any new warm body to this defense makes me happy at this point. Know nothing about him, but like I said, I'll take anyone new. I don't want to trot out the same D next year. In Ted we trust. I just keep repeating that to myself again and again.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

" getting to the quarterback has been a challenge."... Yay!

" Lawson's pass-rushing difficulties"... Yay!

"he graded out as the No. 14 overall 4-3 linebacker"... With roughly half the league playing a 34, that would mean there are about 28 43 OLB's, making him, smack, dab, average... Yay!

This does nothing for me personally, as you can probably tell. Just do it in the draft for crying out loud.


ppabich's picture

There are far more than 28 43 OLBs.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Starting? Idk why I said 28, it should be 32 if we're going on the assumption that the league is split 50/50 34 to 43. And there are probably still a few more 43 teams than 34. So there may be... 36 43 OLB's in the league. Only two per team. Far more? That start? K.

packsmack25's picture

He was 14 among ALL 4-3 LINEBACKERS. So that includes all the stud MLBs, too. So 14 out of about 50 or so. Not average, slightly above.

Evan's picture

I'd like this pick-up. Not the pass rush answer, but nice depth.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

But I doubt it would be a contract that would equate to just depth. He's gonna want starter $$$. No?

Evan's picture

It's hard to say. Probably, yeah. But he's still available for a reason.

Evan's picture

And I'd certainly like Capers' chances to get something out of him moreso than Singletary or Marvin Lewis.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Idk, don't think we need a project out of FA. He probably is what he is at this point, which doesn't appear to be what we need. Now if we were to drop Jones, or Walden, or both to lose that $$$ and then he came in at a reasonable price, I'd be ok with that. Because we would still adress the position early in the draft in all likelihood.

Evan's picture

I dont think he'd be a project. But he is only 27 and hasn't had the best coaching. SF was a disaster when he was there and the Bengals are the Bengals. But of course it all comes down to his price. And getting him definitely shouldn't stop TT from looking at OLB in the first round or two.

I wouldn't drop Jones for him. I like Jones as a backup. And isn't Walden a FA?

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Yes he is, basically meant if we weren't to resign him.... If his spot remains available. I'm personally not a big Jones guy. Though I was stoked about him at one time... That has subsided, he's JAG.

Evan's picture

Yeah, I'm totally fine with letting Walden walk. As for Jones, I think he's slightly better than JAG. But not much.

PackersRS's picture

Combine numbers eerily similar to Matthews, for what's worth.

Production, in terms of pass rush, have not been there, so much that the Bengals used him on running downs almost exclusively.

It all comes down to $. I have no question he's an improvement over what we have, and as Evan said, Capers + Greene > any coach he has ever had. If he's cheap, it's a very good signing, he's only 27.

If he wants more than $3MI per year (which is what he was getting in Cincy), forget it, not worth the cap space.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Totally agree with that. If the price is right, fine. But I don't think the signing of Manny frickin Lawson should/would stop the search for the next Clay.

Evan's picture

I don't think anyone disagrees with that.

Lars's picture

He just seems to be looking for an argument. Lawson would be a nice player to add to the mix and better than either Walden or Jones. And, Zombo has trouble staying healthy. He could replace what Chillar brought to the table a few years ago, as well.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

I know, Evan can be so argumentative.

Evan's picture

Hah. You sonofa...

FourEyesBrewing's picture

What worries me with a lot of LB analyses is the lack of attention paid to coverage skills. With TEs assuming a larger role and presenting serious match-up difficulties, having a LB that could at least cover the underneath routes would be invaluable. I'm not saying this is our guy, but he could be a good situational player.

mike b's picture

pull the trigger on some of these FA'S once in a while uncle ted.

bigunit94's picture

It takes two to tango.

For that matter, Ted's not gonna overpay for anyone. There are plenty of GMs/owners who regularly overpay for FAs, which is why we usually aren't a player in that process. In the long run we're better off in nearly every case.

I am all for bringing this guy in, at the right price.

Brooklyn81's picture

If we sign him we could look more towards a 5 technique or a center in the first rd. And the maybe another pass rushing olb in the second or third. Lets remember that this draft is loaded with olb but everything else is thin

Mike's picture

You're right about the depth at OLB, but if Andre Branch, Whitney Merciless or Nick Perry are there at pick 28, we take whichever one TT has ranked highest. Because this league, at least now, is all about passing and rushing the passer. There are good steals at DE in this draft, like Ta'amu of UW or the guy Hicks from Canada. But above all we need a bookend. We've tried lowballing that position for 2 drafts and it's gotten us bounced from a playoffs we probably should've come away from with a 2nd Super Bowl. TT - GET CLAY A RUSHING MATE! Just like that old clip of Cowher telling Greg Lloyd "Rush the QB, RUSH!"

Bearmeat's picture

Disagree 100%. It's better at 5 technique by far than at OLB.

From everything I've read, OLB's and S's are the weakest part of this entire draft class....

Bearmeat's picture

IF we get this guy (which you all know we probably won't) IMO that means TT will go DL, C, DL, S/DL in rounds 1-3.

This is a good and deep draft for 3/4 5 technique guys. Not so much for 3/4 OLB's.

Unless we get one of the top two (not likely), then we might as well take a FA, or a project (again) and wait until next year... sigh..

nerd's phone's picture

Sounds like a guy who can cover TEs. And I agree, if anyone can get something out of him, Greene and Capers can.
So'Oto is the situational pass rusher.

dat der Packer-backer's picture

Especially considering how many times we got burned all game long by the opposing team's tight ends (Sand Diego and Kansas City come to mind, in particular).

pkrNboro's picture

I love you guys!

By God, if GB can go with a running-back-by-committee...

...then we could General-Manage by committee!

Who's with me?

I'm thinking tomorrow... 7ish???

FITZCORE1252's picture

Where do we meet. And will there be beer?

But really... isn't that what we come here to do? Play GM. Express concerns/happiness. Throw out ideas. Shoot down ideas. Act like we know what we're talking about or what the front office should do. If not, what do we do? Serious question.

pkrNboro's picture

I think it's fun as hell playing GM!

I may not be politically correct: if I see a hint in somebody I'll jettison an established player.

Take Hawk, for example.
He has good points and may technically out-perform a younger player, but I think he has no upside. This makes me opt for DJ Smith every time. The way I saw DJ explode into the hole, and make a ***sound*** tackle -- just something I don't see in Hawk.

The cool thing about the people that come here is that they know what they're talking about! If there are differences of opinion, they are well-reasoned. There's NOBODY here that's saying: "oh, hell yeah -- Walden is the tits!" or "Brad Jones will be stellar in his fifth year."

Outside of Matthews, every other OLB has had a chance and hasn't cut the mustard. I say shitcan them all. Seriously, none of them shows the slightest ability to function as Clay's running mate.

and pretty much everybody here knows that... although may not be easy to admit.

Something else that is hard to admit: every year a favorite player or two has to be let go.

dat der Packer-backer's picture

And yet that player is never Jarrett Bush because he's nobody's favorite player.

Don Hutson's picture

And we give our TT wannabees another round of Cheese Head lager.

PackersRS's picture

I don't know about you guys, but I'm not "playing" in here.

It's all real in my head.

Rocky70's picture

Hell, sign Lawson. Tell Walden, Thanks but no Thanks.

Anything to break up this absurdly inept core of OLBs. Hate to see another year of CM3's career minimized because every late round draft pick & UDFA OLB thrown at the wall just doesn't stick.

ebongreen's picture

I'm curious to see where this is going. Heaven knows we need linebackers who can cover backs and tight ends in passing situations as well as rush. For all I know, maybe he's the next "nickel 'backer" like Brandon Chillar used to be.

New cow smell's picture

Can he play inside so they can cut hawk's ass (even though doing so would cost them $)?

ppabich's picture


New cow smell's picture

Why not?

Didn't Hawk move from outside in 43 to inside in 34?

Dude's only 240. Pretty light for 34 olb.

Evan's picture

Hawk has always been an ILB, if I'm not mistaken.

EDIT: A quick google says I am mistaken. OLB at Ohio State. Still, I wouldn't move him outside in the 3-4

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Yes, hawk was an OLB at OSU. And i concur, pretty light to set the edge.

ppabich's picture

Lawson is a 3-4 OLB and 4-3 OLB. He has never played inside in the NFL.

Roid Braun's picture

A few things. Manny Lawson played outside linebacker in a 4-3 last year meaning that he didn't rush the passer.

He was solid against the run and was taken out in passing downs for coverage reasons.

Towards the end of his time in San Francisco he was actually a fairly effective pass rusher and his 6.5 sacks came on few pass rush attempts (article below).

Even a league average outside linebacker would be an enormous step up from having the worst outside linebackers in the league across from Matthews.

Thompson has shown he will sign a free agent if he believes they are being undervalued (Woodson and Pickett).

Pass rushers outside of the top few guys tends to be a crap shoot in the draft. Better to sign a guy for cheap that doesn't pan out then use a first round pick on one.

If they could sign him it would be huge imo, and would allow them to focus on DLine/OLine and secondary in the draft.

dat der Packer-backer's picture

I think that's a great point. If we can sign a cheap, serviceable OLB like Lawson, who would still be a step up and better than many other team's outside 'backer, we could focus on other needs early in the draft. I'd like to shore up that spot with him and get a center and d-lineman and corner.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

" Better to sign a guy for cheap that doesn’t pan out then use a first round pick on one."

I guess I just haven't seen anything that says we could get him on the cheap.

" would allow them to focus on DLine/OLine and secondary in the draft"

So, you're cool with calling it good on Manny frickin Lawson. OLB search over? Don't sweat it in the draft cuz we got Manny frickin Lawson? God I hope that's not the case.

Mark's picture

Even they get Lawson they should get an OLB in the midrounds like Jake Bequette. Heck in the 2nd or 3rd they could get McClellin if they don't get Lawson.

Roid Braun's picture

lol yea because those were my exact words. If you read my comment I used the word 'focus'. I didn't suggest we only draft DLine, OLine, and Secondary.

And if you can get Lawson for around $4 million a year or less I believe that would be a steal (Hawk makes over $6 million).

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Lol, I didn't quote you, which would have been your "exact words".

By focusing on the other positions you listed, I gathered that you meant... In the earlier rounds. Which would mean if we were to grab an olb it would be later in the draft. Making it less likely that they would have an instant impact. Making Manny frickin Lawson the defacto "guy" for the time being. Meaning there is still little pass rush opposite Clay.

ppabich's picture

I wanted the Packers to sign him last year. He is exactly the FA mold of Ryan Pickett. Former first round pick, great physical specimen who has under-performed up to this point.

Having an OLB who can cover, set the edge, and play the run is a valuable commodity. There is nothing wrong with platooning the spot.

pkrNboro's picture

Somebody talked about moving Lang to C -- I think I read something about his cross-training last year?

I thought this would result in a void a LG, and was initially anti-idea. Then I remembered that Dominguez is 330 and believed to have a future as an interior oLineman (possibly a great counter to Suh/Stomper.)

But I really think it will be EDS, until Genus beats him out.

Grant returns -- stopgap until final eval on Green.
Plenty of TEs until fate of Quarless learned.

Late round Tackle, but early rounds must focus on defense.

IMHO -- and you bitches know I'm humble...

djbonney138's picture

Wait, I thought Tebow was our new OLB?

pkrNboro's picture

I just vomited in my mouth...

"It’s now a given that Tim Tebow will be traded. The question remains where.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, four teams currently are in the running: the Jaguars, the Jets, the Packers, and an unknown (for now) candidate."

SAY IT'S NOT SO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PackersRS's picture

It's not so.

pkrNboro's picture

unrelated Packer note:

has Google fucked up YouTube, or whut?

MarkinMadison's picture

Tebow ain't coming to Green Bay. No way that Jacksonville does not out-bid the Packers for this guy. No way that TT gives up good draft picks for a guy who will be his back-up QB, at best. No way his contract gets carried by the Packers. Hold me to it.

If TT thinks Manny Lawson can be better, I'd say bring him in. If he got 6.5 sacks for anyone, then he can get to the QB if he's given opportunities. 6.5 is sure more production than everyone who across from CM3 got last year combined. And if we think the Packers can draft the next CM3, and the next BJ Raji and the next Scott Wells all in one draft, - o.k. it's POSSIBLE, but it's a risky proposition to count on it all shaking out that way.

Devil Doc's picture

At what point will Dom Capers "safety" as the DC be in question?

We went from the top def in the league the year of the SB to the WORST in the league. Granted we were in the tops for turn overs, but the amount of yards given up was atrocious. Was that all due to the loss of Nick Collins?

I think the "key loss" this past season, and have seen quite a few posts about it, was the pass rush. Does anyone else remember Cullen Jenkins. He may not have been a stud, but he was good enough that opposing OLines had to account for him and not double up on Clay. I'm not saying he's the reason either, but finding a guy to put pressure on the line to me is more important than an OLB with poor pass rushing skills and decent coverage skills. Just my 2 cents.

Evan's picture

Cullen who?

ibleedgrnngold's picture

Since he doesn't pass rush, and given our directory need for dlinemen, the fact that he is being considered means teddy is aiming at Cox or a possible trade up to get an impact lineman (and or a second one later)

ibleedgrnngold's picture


ibleedgrnngold's picture

Since he doesn't pass rush, and given our dire need for dlinemen, the fact that he is being considered means teddy is aiming at Cox or a possible trade up to get an impact lineman (and or a second one later)

cole's picture

From seeing that PFF article, you'd have to think that if this guy could return to his 2010 level he would be a huge upgrade.

Brian's picture

Nobody has mentioned the fact that he tore his ACL in Sept 2007 and was lost for the season.
missing a full year is going to effect your overall career stats

redlights's picture

So we all agree that Lawson would be a good pickup for the right price, right? Now that that's settled:

Drafting Devon Still would keep our OLB's cleaner, and they would be effective. Even if they're named Jones or Lattimore.

An OLB that can cover TE's isn't insignificant.

When will people start equating Zombo with Neal and Harrell? I'm not ready to give up on Neal (minus the PED's); but with all the hate, why not throw some at Zombo, too?

Don't forget about Safety in the draft; even if its a converted CB. I wouldn't trust Collins this year, even if he plays. If he retires, I go Safety in second round.

packsmack25's picture

There's no hate for Zombo because he didn't cost a draft pick, let alone a high one.

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