No one really knows how long Shaq Lawson will be out of action with the Buffalo Bills. The first round pick could miss anywhere from 4-6 months of action while he recovers from shoulder surgery. In his absence, another Lawson, Manny, is expected to see quite the workload for the Bills.
However, with Lawson expected to miss extended time, the Bills should look to the free agent market for depth options. Believe it or not, there are some quality options still on the market. Here's a few players the Bills should at least consider for depth while Lawson is out of action.
Neal is perhaps my favorite option available in free agency. He started 15-of-16 games last year with the Green Bay Packers as an OLB in the team's 3-4 defense. In terms of size, Neal is very similar to Lawson. The former Packer LB is 6'3" and 262 lbs. whereas Lawson is 6'4" and 260 lbs.
The OLB is coming off of a season in which he recorded 36 total tackles, four sacks, and one forced fumble. Neal isn't consistent as a pass rusher (his four sacks came on 434 passing snaps last year), but in the last four seasons Neal has registered 18 sacks. In addition to his sack total, Neal has shown that he's solid against the run.
Freeney isn't drumming up a ton of interest in free agency, but there's no guarantee that he'd want to play for the Bills. He recently said he wanted to play for a winner. Buffalo is coming off of back-to-back non-losing seasons, but Buffalo may be low on Freeney's wish list. Last year, Freeney played 317 snaps and had a ridiculous stat line. In his limited snaps, Freeney recorded nine total tackles, eight sacks, and three forced fumbles.
Freeney is 36 years old, but he's still an effective situational pass rusher.
Pace is not on the same level as Neal or Freeney at this point in his career, but he has plenty of experience in Rex Ryan's defense. Pace is coming off of a season that saw him register 22 total tackles, three sacks, one pass defensed, and two forced fumbles. In his last two seasons with Rex Ryan, Pace registered 15 total sacks.