When the Buffalo Bills signed Lorenzo Alexander to a contract in April of 2016, the signing was met with little fanfare. Google searches of the announcement turn up articles where Alexander shares the headlines with safety Colt Anderson. Both players were initially intended to serve as special teams players, with little contribution expected with the actual defense.
While that initial prediction held true with Anderson, Alexander’s career took an unexpected turn. He was third in the NFL in sacks, earning his second Pro Bowl nod (along with the Defensive MVP of the game). In his second year with the club, he could not replicate the eye-popping statistics of his first year, but his leadership was tremendously important in helping the Bills break North America’s longest professional sports playoff drought.
In today’s installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we look at a veteran entering what could be his last year in pro football.
Name: Lorenzo Alexander
Height/Weight: 6’1” 245 lbs.
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Alexander enters the final year of a two-year, $5.95 million contract signed prior to the 2017 NFL season. In 2018, Alexander will carry a $3.6 million cap hit.
2017 Recap: Alexander was second on the Bills in sacks only one season after leading the squad in that category. However, his total of 3 was a far cry from his 12.5-sack year in 2016. He combined to make 65 tackles in 11 starts, forcing 3 fumbles and adding a pass defended. He did play in all 16 games (plus the team’s Wild Card playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars), but he ceded some playing time to cornerback Leonard Johnson when the Bills began employing a nickel defense as their base beginning with a Week 12 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Positional outlook: Alexander is the highest-paid member of the Bills’ linebacking corps, and he is also the oldest member of the positional group (and the team overall). The Bills have 9 linebackers on the roster, though a few of those (Tremaine Edmunds and Tanner Vallejo) are middle linebackers. Alexander figures to start outside, with Matt Milano at the other spot and Ramon Humber as the primary backup. Julian Stanford, Deon Lacey, Xavier Woodson-Luster, and Corey Thompson round out the linebackers currently on the roster.
2018 Offseason: Alexander has been at all offseason activities thus far, and he has run with the first-team defense, as well.
2018 season outlook: While it is entirely possible that the Bills decide to go younger and cheaper at the position, it becomes less likely with each positive thing written about the venerable Alexander, whose positive influence extends well beyond the playing field. He is an invaluable member of the locker room, and he continues to work positively within the community. His experience on special teams (and continued willingness to play on kickoffs and punts even at age 35) make him a valuable piece of the roster for head coach Sean McDermott. Alexander should once again be a major fixture on Buffalo’s roster in 2018.