The Saints released cornerback Keenan Lewis on Friday, in a move that came as a surprise to some. The Bills could be interested.
While veteran cornerback labored through a nagging hip injury in 2015 and was on New Orleans’ PUP list in training camp, there was no indication he was put on the waived/injured list.
Therefore, as a “vested veteran” — which means he’s accrued more than four seasons in the league — Lewis is available to sign with a team right now. He is not subject to the waiver process.
Most believe Lewis’ unavailability due to injury was the main reason he was let go. Those people are probably right.
However, the 30-year-old offered up some interesting quotes upon his release, and some could pertain to the Bills.
CB Keenan Lewis to me on #Saints def. coordinator Dennis Allen: "...he has his particular guys. Unfortunately, I wasn't one of his guys."— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) August 20, 2016
ESPN’s Saints reporter, Mike Triplett commented on this, writing: “Lewis said he never meshed with new defensive coordinator Dennis Allen like he did with former DC Rob Ryan, who was fired in November.”
Triplett then quoted Lewis and again touched on the Lewis-Ryan connection:
“It's a business. They can't wait on one player. They gotta do what's best for them, and I gotta do what's best for me," said Lewis, who said he still has the utmost respect for head coach Sean Payton and the Saints organization -- but added he didn't feel as comfortable over the past year, especially after Ryan was fired.
When explaining the reasons for Lewis’ somewhat surprising release, Triplett wrote the following:
The Saints have not commented on Lewis' release, but the decision likely was made for chemistry reasons as much as football reasons.
Lewis practiced only once during training camp while slowly recovering from a hip injury that limited him to six games and zero starts last year.
Lewis said he suffered a minor tear in June and wanted to wait until he was closer to 100 percent healthy, rather than play at 70 percent in the preseason and risk never getting back to full strength. He thinks he can get close to 100 percent by Week 1 of the regular season.
Lewis made that clear to the team -- and through a handful of media interviews last week, which probably didn't help his situation.
Lewis told ESPN’s Josina Anderson something similar regarding when he believes he’ll be able to return to the field:
CB Keenan Lewis to me: "Like I told (the #Saints), I'm going to be healthy in like the next two weeks where I can contribute & help a team."— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) August 20, 2016
So, should Buffalo’s front office consider adding Lewis?
After a summer littered with injuries of their own, his hip issue could be concerning for the Bills, but the tie to defensive assistant Rob Ryan increases the chances of Lewis being brought in.
In 2013, Lewis was a star for the Saints with four interceptions, which came a year after a remarkable 23-passes-defended season with the Steelers in 2012 he parlayed into a five-year, $25.5 million deal.
The consistency of Lewis’ play dipped in 2014, but he still picked off two passes and defended 13 more while playing in all 16 games.
At this point, the Bills secondary is super deep, so signing Lewis is by no means a necessity.
Yet, if the front office doesn’t like how veteran backups like Sterling Moore, Corey White or Mario Butler play today against the Giants or for the rest of the preseason, Lewis would be a quality addition this close to the start of the regular season.
He’s 6’1”, 208-pounds and has tentacle-like 32 3/4” arms... there’s a distinct possibility Rex would be intrigued by his size and length for press-man purposes.
I’m going to venture another guess: Rob Ryan has already been in Doug Whaley’s ear about the potential of this signing.