Unfortunately for the Cincinnati Bengals, the team witnessed upsetting injury issues at linebacker before the season even began. Keith Rivers showed up to camp with a "reconstructed" wrist and during an early training camp practice, Roddrick Muckelroy suffered an Achilles injury that prematurely ended his season. As a result the Bengals felt the need to "reconstruct" their linebacker position, signing free agent Manny Lawson, among other players.
During his first season with the team, Lawson started 15 games and generated 78 tackles, 1.5 quarterback sacks, six pressures, seven tackles for loss and three passes defensed. Additionally he led the team in tackles (11) against Pittsburgh (November 13) and the following week against the Baltimore Ravens (10).
Though some suspected Lawson to be a pass rusher, the Bengals didn't use him that way, only rushing the quarterback 40 times out of 194 defensive snaps against the pass. Lawson was graded as the team's second-best run defender, behind Frostee Rucker and the third-best defensive player overall by Pro Football Focus.
The Bengals eventually re-signed Lawson to a one-year deal worth $2.1 million in late March following the expiration of his contract during the offseason.