June 06, 2016

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Defensive end Shaq Lawson is under contract, though the Buffalo Bills' top draft pick won't be ready for the season.

The Bills announced the signing on Monday, while a person familiar with the contract said it's a four-year deal worth $10.3 million. The person added that the contract's value is fully guaranteed and includes a $5.7 million signing bonus.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills did not reveal those figures.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds, Lawson was drafted 19th overall out of Clemson and was one of college football's top pass-rushers last year. He was a consensus All-American, the Southeastern Conference's defensive player of the year, and led the nation with 25 1/2 tackles for a loss and had 12 1/2 sacks.

Lawson, however, won't be ready for start of the season after having surgery last month to repair a shoulder injury. He played through the injury during his four years at college, and then aggravated it during the Bills rookie camp last month.

The Bills and Lawson agreed to have the operation rather than risk a recurrence during training camp or the season.

Lawson is part of a Rex Ryan-designed defense that was retooled this offseason. He was being counted upon to immediately fill the starting job left open after Mario Williams was released in March.

Buffalo's pass rush sputtered during Ryan's first season as head coach. After leading the league with 54 sacks in 2014 under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Buffalo managed just 21 last year - a franchise low for a 16-game season.

Though injuries were an issue and some players balked at buying into Ryan's defensive philosophy, the coach also blamed himself for attempting to meld his and Schwartz's schemes.

Ryan has vowed the defense will be much improved this season.

The Bills used their first three draft picks on defenders, rounded out by Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland and Ohio State defensive lineman Adolphus Washington.

Buffalo has now signed six of its seven draft picks. The only rookie not under contract is quarterback Cardale Jones, a fourth-round pick out of Ohio State.


AP NFL website: http://pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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