The Cincinnati Bengals had some chemistry troubles on the defensive line this season. At the start of the season, it was thought that veterans Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins were both going to be dominating other teams.
That wasn’t the case. The d-line was supposed to be a strength before injuries and Dunlap’s exodus derailed things. Sam Hubbard and Carl Lawson were the two who stepped up and carried the unit, but it’s safe to say that Lawson did a bit more.
Lawson will be hitting free agency as one of the most coveted players on the defensive side of the ball. Looking at Lawson’s traditional stats, well, they aren’t very impressive, but his overall impact was.
Back in November, Lawson was among the league leaders in ESPN’s Created Sacks metric. Despite Lawson finishing the year with just five sacks, Lawson remained inside the top 10 defenders in Sacks Created with 10.5.
Sacks Created -- where we credit the person who first beat their blocker, as opposed to the person who finished the sack.— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) January 14, 2021
Aaron Donald 19
Myles Garrett 16.5
T.J. Watt 14.5
Khalil Mack 13
Justin Houston 12
Emmanuel Ogbah 11
Carl Lawson 10.5
Lawson, who put up a career-high 32 quarterback hits, didn’t always finish, but he helped his teammates do so.
That’s what the Bengals should be looking at when it comes to whether or not he’s worth the money in free agency. The Bengals went big last free agency and made moves on the defensive side of the ball. They added two cornerbacks and the hard-hitting Vonn Bell.
While the cap space will be there for Lawson, the team also has William Jackson III to consider and a massive need on the offensive line that must be addressed.
With Joe Burrow’s career just getting started, there will be big-time decisions this franchise must make to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2015.