The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sleeper candidate: Carl Lawson
Carl Lawson has done nothing but dominate on a Cincinnati Bengals defense that hasn’t been very good. The Bengals drafted him in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but in his first four years in the league, he has proven to be a lot better than most fourth-round picks.
One of the knocks against Lawson is his injury history. While he played in every game for the Bengals in 2020, he did miss a significant amount of time in his previous two seasons. In 2019 Lawson missed three games and in 2018 he missed eight, all 11 games were missed due to injury.
While still in college, Carl Lawson tore an ACL which contributed to him falling so far down in the Draft. He recovered pretty well and had a very strong rookie year, but in 2018 he tore his ACL in the other knee. There used to be a time where an ACL injury meant that an NFL player’s career was over, but with the advancements in medicine, that is no longer the case.
However, these injuries shouldn’t be taken lightly either. This would be a very risky pick-up by the Bucs, but because of his injury history, they could get a quality edge rusher for pretty cheap. In 2019, Lawson missed three games due to a hamstring issue but he still registered six tackles for loss, five sacks, and 22 quarterback hits.
Carl Lawson had a great 2020 season. He registered 36 tackles, four tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks. He also had 32 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles. The most important stat of his season was that he played in all 16 games.
When Lawson was drafted by the Bengals, he signed a four-year, $4.36 million dollar deal. Due to his injury history, he will probably seek a long-term contract over a big-money contract. The Bucs could realistically sign him on a four-year, $18 million dollar deal.