Manny Lawson let the cat out of the bag regarding his return to Cincinnati a couple of days ago, but, much like breaking up, nothing is official until both parties turn their key.
The Bengals have turned their key. They have made the official announcement that Lawson has re-signed with the team for a second season. Lawson started every game at outside linebacker last season, recording 78 tackles and seven tackles-for-losses for Mike Zimmer’s defense. Zimmer talked about Lawson’s contributions in the team’s release about the agreement.
“Manny was a big part of our success last season, and I look for him to take his game to a higher level this year. He moved to essentially a different position with us, playing outside in a 4-3 after being in a 3-4, and he kept getting better as the year went on. He was very good against the run and in coverage, and this year I think we can take better advantage of him as a pass rusher.”
If the Bengals can get Lawson to become a force in the pass rush, that would be a pleasant surprise. Lawson has done everything but rack up sacks since entering the league as a 2006 first-round pick of the 49ers, a blank spot on his bio that makes his other abilities somewhat overlooked. Even if he doesn’t discover that part of his game, Lawson will be an important piece of the Bengals defense as they try to return to the playoffs for a second straight year.