Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson said Tuesday that he faces a "do-or-die" season after the team decided last month not to extend his contract for a fifth year.
The move will make Lawson a free agent at the end of this season, his fourth in the NFL. Since he was a first-round draft pick (19th overall in 2016), the Bills could have extended his contract to cover the 2020 season, but decided not to.
"No, I ain't concerned. It's motivation. I know what time it is. It's do or die," Lawson said. "I've been through a situation like this before. It's just a small step. Me, I'm just gonna go out there and ball this year and see where everything falls."
Lawson's remarks came in Niagara Falls as he toured the Underground Railroad Heritage Center with a group of local high school football players. The center opened last year.
"It's history, man," Lawson said. "I never knew about the Underground Railroad. We used to talk about it in school all the time, but really didn't get into any detail about it, so we're coming to learn new information."
The players from Bennett, Timon, Orchard Park, Lackawanna and Niagara Falls high schools were chosen through the new Shaq Lawson Foundation, which seeks to help youth.
"A lot of us were underprivileged. I used to be that kid," Lawson said. "I had older guys I looked up to."
"He wants to give back to disadvantaged kids in both the community that he plays in and the community that he lives in back home, which is the central Clemson-Greenville area (in South Carolina)," said Pat Mathews, who handles marketing for the foundation and for Lawson.
"It starts with the student-athletes, because that's what he can relate to the most," Mathews said. "But this is just the beginning of a lot of great things that the Shaq Lawson Foundation and Shaq himself is going to do going forward, so we're very excited about it."