Now that his fourth season has officially come to an end, Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Although he has the freedom to cash in somewhere through a free agent market that typically invests a lot of money into young pass-rushers, Lawson repeatedly discussed his desire to sign a second contract in Buffalo during Monday's locker room clean out day.
"I enjoy being in Buffalo. It's a small city like where I am from," Lawson said. "If everything works out, I would love to be back here."
Buffalo declined Lawson's fifth-year option before the 2019 regular season, thus allowing the Clemson product to choose where he wants to play next season.
Without another year of security guaranteed from the organization, Lawson used his contract season as motivation.
"That motivated me all year," Lawson said. "They didn't pick it up and I knew what I had to do, so hopefully I got teams' eyes and the Bills' eyes."
The motivation helped result in his best statistical season to date as Lawson finished with a career-high 6.5 sacks. His 18 quarterback hits led the Bills defense, as did his 13 tackles for a loss.
"I'm happy with the season I had," Lawson said. "I had a career-year this year and it's only up from here. Only have to get better."
Lawson has expressed interest in returning for a fifth season with Buffalo. Will the Bills show an increased desire to retain him after such a strong season?
Considering their success down the stretch, having a young core of Lawson, Ed Oliver, and Jordan Phillips up front could entice the front office and coaching staff.
Another element of their decision to consider is the other options on the edge. Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy will both be over 30-years-old by the start of next season. Neither were consistent in getting to the quarterback this year.
If their interest in Lawson has increased since last offseason, there is plenty of salary cap space to make a deal work. According to OverTheCap.com, Buffalo has the third-most cap space in the NFL with nearly $89 million to spend.
Time will tell if Lawson sees any of that fortune.