It’s never easy for future first-round draft picks when their team declines their fifth-year option. Shaq Lawson found himself in that boat last season when the Bills declined his option, worth $9.451 million in May 2019 (per spotrac).
But far from getting discouraged, Lawson muscled up and put together his best season in the NFL in his fourth year. At 6’3″ and 267 pounds the former Clemson Tiger now also has a chip on his shoulder. Moving to division rivals Miami could make things very interesting.
Shaq Lawson’s on a mission
Lawson clearly took the Bills’ decision to heart and used it to fuel his 2019 campaign. “It’s motivation. I know what time it is. It’s do or die,” Lawson said. “I’ve been through a situation like this before. It’s just a small step. Me, I’m just gonna go out there and ball this year and see where everything falls.”
With 7 sacks, 13 QB hits, 18 hurries, and 13 tackles for loss Shaq Lawson put up career highs in all four categories. PFF has graded Lawson as better each year as a pass rusher, finishing the 2019 campaign with a 69.3 grade.
But Lawson understands that he’s underperformed so far in his career, but at 25 there’s still the opportunity for greatness. He signed a $30 million 3-year contract with the Dolphins on the first day of free agency.
I want to have a purpose behind doing it. It’s the fact that I can play the game I love and try to be the best at it, because that’s what I want to do.Shaq Lawon upon signing with the Miami Dolphins
Second chances are often the sweetest
If Shaq Lawson still needed motivation he gets to face the team that didn’t believe in him twice each season. He is a prototypical defensive end, great at getting up the field, but also very good against the run.
He has very polished hands and plays through blocks very well and sets the edge very well. With a creative coach like Brian Flores, his ability to play against the run and rush the passer will benefit his playing time. Expect to see him surpass his career-high 483 snaps from 2019 with ease.
Shaq Lawson still has a lot of growing to do. He needs to improve his consistency and play as he did in a contract year on every down. If he can do that, with good coaching he will be more than worth this contract. At just 25 years old, Lawson could be a stalwart of the Dolphins d-line for years to come.