The Buffalo Bills got defensive end Manny Lawson back Tuesday.
But they might have to prepare to be without him again.
Lawson has been the subject of an NFL investigation into an alleged domestic incident, The Buffalo News has confirmed with two separate league sources, and faces the possibility of a one-game league suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
"Manny Lawson was not involved in a domestic-violence incident," Lawson's agent, Jonathan Feinted, told The News.
Asked why Lawson would be facing a one-game suspension, Feinsod replied, "that's all I'm going to say."
Lawson, 32, was activated from the active/non-football injury list Tuesday and practiced for the first time since suffering a partially torn pectoral muscle while working out prior to training camp.
Lawson figures to replace rookie Shaq Lawson in the starting lineup at outside linebacker at the start of the season. Bills coach Rex Ryan will ease him back into practice –Lawson didn’t take part in team drills Tuesday at St. John Fisher College.
“We still don’t have timetable as far as him playing,” Ryan said. “This is something that we feel good about. He did individual drills, that’s pretty much it. And we’ll see, you know, how he progresses, but obviously as he transitions from it we’re going to be smart with him.”
Shaq Lawson, the team’s first-round draft pick out of Clemson, was placed on the active/physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp as he recovers from shoulder surgery. It’s unclear as to how much time in the regular season he will miss.
Manny Lawson is entering his 11th season in the NFL and fourth with the Bills. He’s scheduled to count $3.4 million against the Bills’ salary cap in 2016 – the 12th-highest figure on the team. The Bills could save $2.35 million against the cap by cutting Lawson, which would bring about a $1.05 million dead-money charge.
If Lawson does receive a one-game suspension, he would forfeit 1/17th of his salary. The NFL’s personal conduct policy states: “If you are convicted of a crime or subject to a disposition of a criminal proceeding, you are subject to discipline. But even if your conduct does not result in a criminal conviction, if the league finds that you have engaged in conduct [prohibited by the policy], you will be subject to discipline."
The policy, first implemented in 1997 and enhanced in 2007, was strengthened again prior to the start of the 2015 season. It calls for a baseline suspension of six games without pay for violations involving “assault, battery, domestic violence, dating violence, child abuse, other forms of family violence, or sexual assault, with consideration given to possible mitigating or aggravating circumstances.”
The key part of the policy reads: "It is a privilege to be part of the National Football League. Everyone who is part of the league must refrain from conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL.”
Lawson was injured while bench-pressing 405 pounds.
“I was going for my second rep and I just felt a slight release and I was like, ‘you know what, let me just ease up right here.’ Great thing that it wasn’t more than what it could’ve been,” he said.
The Bills have been snake bitten at outside linebacker, with Shaq Lawson, Manny Lawson and IK Enemkpali all getting hurt. Enemkpali is out for the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee during the Bills’ first preseason game Saturday against Indianapolis.
“I guess I get how one would say your outside linebacker is jinxed,” Manny Lawson said. “Let’s just hope the rest of the guys don’t follow misfortune.”