The Bengals didn’t use their franchise tag on edge rusher Carl Lawson and that didn’t come as much of a surprise to Lawson.
Lawson said that “the direct hit against the cap” doesn’t make sense for a Bengals team that has multiple things to fix. Lawson put protecting quarterback Joe Burrow at the top of the list and believes “a long-term negotiated deal done with me” is the better way to go for the Bengals’ big picture.
When it comes to the chances of landing that deal, Lawson sent a somewhat mixed message. He pegged the Bengals as the favorites to sign him before noting that he’s not going to be ignoring the phone once the negotiating window with other teams opens on Monday.
“Of course the Bengals are the frontrunner, we just haven’t gotten to any of the negotiations and stuff yet,” Lawson said, via Paul Dehner of TheAthletic.com. “I just know talking with the Bengals I think they would do right by me. And we’ll get that situation talked about first, but there is a lot of interest out there that’s what I’m hearing. So it will be interesting to see what happens the next couple weeks . . . Of course, I’m comfortable where I’m at. But it doesn’t make sense to not listen to what people have to say but if there are better options for me and my family then people will understand that. It’s not like they don’t have a great shot at landing me. Why would you tag me if you know you have a good shot at talking with me?”
Lawson is No. 16 on PFT’s list of the top free agents after posting 32 tackles, 36 quarterback hits, 5.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles during the 2020 season.