The Buffalo Bills have nearly $31 million in cap space going into the 2018 NFL season, according to Spotrac. If they were to release Lorenzo Alexander, a linebacker, special teams standout, and locker room leader, the team could add to that total. Will the Lorax return to Buffalo in 2018?
If the Bills were to release Alexander, the team would save $2.85 million against the salary cap in 2018. If Alexander remains on the roster, he’ll collect $3.4 million. While he had a breakout year in 2016 while playing in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 scheme, he struggled to have the same impact in Sean McDermott’s 4-3.
Alexander is best suited for a role as a situational pass rusher at this point, as he is a liability in coverage. He struggled with that aspect of playing strongside linebacker this season, and his overall statistics suffered as a result. In 2016, Alexander notched 64 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 1 interception, 6 passes defensed, and 3 forced fumbles. He was named to the Pro Bowl after the season, and he was subsequently named the MVP of the game. In 2017, Alexander totaled 65 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 pass defensed, and 3 forced fumbles.
Statistics certainly don’t tell the full story, but Alexander clearly had more impact on the field in 2016 than he did in 2017. In the locker room and in the community, however, Alexander has consistently shown himself to be nothing short of spectacular. He was named a finalist for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award and the Bart Starr Award, and he was also nominated as Buffalo’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. To cut ties with someone who has made it his mission to effect positive change within the community is difficult to do, but the NFL is a business, and nothing is impossible.
Alexander remains a special teams stalwart, and he could certainly contribute to the defense in a more limited role. The Bills could ask him to restructure his contract, perhaps by offering him an extension of some sort that lessens his 2018 cap hit while converting some of the money he is currently guaranteed to incentive-based bonuses. Otherwise, they’ll be looking at paying a bit too much for an aging linebacker who isn’t a great fit for their current defense.
From an emotional standpoint, this is a no-brainer: Alexander should stay. However, from a pure production standpoint, it is possible that his spot on the roster could be in jeopardy.
Roster bonus: $400,000
Salary: $2.45 million
Remaining signing bonus cap hit: $550,000
Cap hit: $3.4 million
Savings: $2.85 million
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