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Fan sentiment: what should the Buffalo Bills do with Lorenzo Alexander during the 2018 NFL offseason?

Head and heart might not agree on this one.

The Buffalo Bills enter the offseason with major questions at linebacker. Preston Brown and Ramon Humber are free agents, Matt Milano is seemingly set to step into a starting role, and Lorenzo Alexander will be 35 before the season starts. Today we examine Alexander’s place with the team in 2018. Leave your comments below.

2017 Analysis

(by Jeff Kantrowski aka Skarekrow)

The vision for the 2018 defensive scheme and roster will probably decide Lorenzo Alexander’s fate with the Buffalo Bills. A scheme that values more rigidly defined linebacker roles can probably find a pure LB upgrade over Alexander without too much trouble. Conversely, a scheme that emphasizes pre-snap changes and misdirection will place higher value on versatile players. Finding an upgrade in this case won’t be quite as simple and the Bills could elect to focus on other needs first.

There are a few things working in Alexander’s favor on this particular team if 2017 was any indication. McDermott and Frazier loved to rotate players on the defensive side, with most of the front seven struggling to break 70% playing time. This allows the team to try to dictate match-ups they like, which means they can limit Alexander’s exposure to unfavorable situations. Similarly, Alexander’s ability to line up in multiple spots means he has high value as a backup for a larger segment of players.

From a talent perspective, Alexander has plenty of tools to continue to be a solid, albeit unspectacular, playmaker. Versatility should increase his value from “could retain” to “should retain” and that’s before adding his value to the team culture. However, fans shouldn’t get their hearts set on an Alexander return. Upgrades will likely be available sometime during the offseason and Alexander could find himself on the wrong end of a linebacker overhaul.

Salary cap savings

(by Sean Murphy)

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 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.

Roster bonus: $400,000
Salary: $2.45 million
Remaining signing bonus cap hit: $550,000
Cap hit: $3.4 million
Savings if released: $2.85 million

In-house replacement options

(by Sean Murphy)

With Matt Milano already slated to take over the starting job at weak-side linebacker next season, there are no options on the roster to replace Alexander. Deon Lacey and Tanner Vallejo are primarily special teams players, and neither would appear to be an upgrade over the venerable Alexander, who also holds special teams value.

Free agent replacement options

(by Tristan Garrnett)

None of these guys will your knock your socks off, per se, but they’re all solid contributors. Given what the free-agent market is shaping up to look like, the Bills would probably be better served trying to find Alexander’s potential replacement in the upcoming draft. If that doesn’t work out, though, resorting to either Tahir Whitehead, Nigel Bradham, Paul Posluszny or current Bills free agent Ramon Humber wouldn’t be bad at all. Neither would keeping Alexander.

2018 NFL Draft options

(by Andrew Griffin aka Grif)

The primary task of a SAM linebacker in a 4-3 defense is to lineup on the strong side of the formation and hold the edge against the run. On passing downs, their time is split between covering tight ends and rushing the passer. At 6’5” 236 pounds, Tremaine Edmunds has the size and speed to play any of the linebacker positions, including SAM. Ever since he declared for the draft, Edmunds stock has been on the rise and he is now firmly stamped as a first-round prospect.

This tier is make up of prospects that made their hay rushing the passer in college but, due to a lack of size or bulk, could make the transition to 4-3 linebacker. Uchenna Nwosu and Ogbonnia Okorunkwo are physically identical to Lorenzo Alexander at 6’2”, 245 pounds and 6’1”, 243 pounds, respectively. Lorenzo Carter and Marquis Haynes are a bit lighter, but their taller statures mean they could take on more coverage responsibilities.

The prospects listed here are either athletically limited and might be limited to only a two-down role (Mike McCray, Davin Bellamy, Garret Dooley) or coming off a long-term injury (Jack Cichy). The calling card of all four prospects is their physicality: they’re not afraid to mix it up with tight ends and blockers in the run game. While their upside is limited, they will likely be available on Day 3 of the draft.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at New York Jets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With all the information now at your disposal, it’s time to make up your mind. You’re the brain trust at One Bills Drive. Which option is the best call? Discuss in the comments section, too.


What should the Bills do with Lorenzo Alexander this offseason?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Release him, save $2.85 million in cap space, sign a younger free agent
    (105 votes)
  • 2%
    Release him, save $2.85 million, draft his replacement in the first round
    (29 votes)
  • 13%
    Release him, save $2.85 million, draft his replacement in the second or third rounds
    (172 votes)
  • 4%
    Release him, save $2.85 million, draft his replacement on Day 3
    (55 votes)
  • 70%
    Keep him for the final year of his deal
    (877 votes)
1238 votes total Vote Now