Posted at: 03/13/2013 12:23 PM
By: Associated Press
The Buffalo Bills began addressing their needs at linebacker by signing free-agent Manny Lawson to a four-year contract on Wednesday.
The signing was the Bills' first addition since the NFL's free agency period opened a day earlier. Lawson fills a big need for a defense that is going through a transition under new coach Doug Marrone, who was hired in January after Chan Gailey was fired following three losing seasons.
A person familiar with the contract revealed the length of the deal, and spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills did not release the contract's terms.
Listed at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Lawson is a seven-year NFL veteran, who spent the past two seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. He spent his first five seasons with San Francisco, after the 49ers selected him in the first round - 22nd overall - in the draft.
Lawson had 47 tackles and two sacks in 16 games, including 10 starts, last season. Overall, he has 18 sacks, two interceptions and seven forced fumbles in starting 81 of 96 career games.
Linebacker is regarded as a primary need in Buffalo, with the defense switching from a three- to a four-linebacker base system under new coordinator Mike Pettine. Buffalo released two-year starting linebacker Nick Barnett last month, and also allowed veteran backup Kirk Morrison to become a free agent. Shawne Merriman isn't coming back, either, after announcing his retirement last week.
Lawson has the build and experience to also fill in at end, a position he played at North Carolina State.
The Bills are making Lawson available to reporters early Wednesday afternoon.