The New Orleans Saints released a veteran cornerback on Friday that the Buffalo Bills just might be interested in. Keenan Lewis spent his last three seasons in the Big Easy (shout out to the recent flood victims), starting off strong before a hip injury forced him to miss most of 2015.
Despite those recent setbacks Lewis says he is excited and ready for a “fresh start“. That new beginning could very well be with Buffalo, as the talented cornerback has deep ties to General Manager Doug Whaley among other high-ranking employees in the Bills organization.
Yes, the secondary is already talented but a great front office is always looking to improve its roster. Here are four reasons Rex Ryan’s squad should consider free agent Keenan Lewis:
The Bills defensive coordinator spent nearly three seasons at that same post with the Saints starting in 2013, the same year Lewis signed a five-year deal with the team. That first year he excelled in Rob’s defense recording four interceptions and was considered one of the top ten toughest cornerbacks to throw on in the NFL.
Lewis also very familiar with the Ryan brothers’ defensive scheme and would most likely be able to step right in and compete when fully healthy. And he literally just mentioned the guy by name after being released. Saints’ ESPN writer Mike Triplett posted quotes and details on the recent move, among which the cornerback saying he and current New Orleans Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen never really meshed and that he was closer with Rob Ryan.
Keenan missed 10 games last season due to multiple injuries and had a mediocre performance in 2014, so why should Rex consider adding the veteran? Lewis stands about 6’1 and ran a 4.37s 40-yard dash coming out of college. His physical traits on paper alone are intriguing and when you consider his style of play it ups the interest level.
The former Oregon State standout has a knack of getting physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage and especially within the first five yards, similar to the way Stephon Gilmore tends to play. Lewis has mostly lined up on the outside in his career, but with quick feet and the ability to change directions and swivel his hips fluidly, he could be an asset in nickel and dime packages. Which leads us to my next point.
Kevon Seymour and Nickel Robey-Coleman
Those are obviously the names of the 3rd and 4th cornerbacks on Buffalo’s current depth chart followed by Corey White, Mario Butler and Jonathan Dowling. Don’t get me wrong, I love Seymour’s potential and Robey-Coleman is a fierce competitor and one of the toughest defensive backs in the league. However, Kevon is a talented yet completely unproven rookie while the latter stands at 5’8 and will always have match up issues because of it.
Lewis was the number one corner for Pittsburgh and New Orleans for a few years and could certainly improve Buffalo’s depth at the position after it lost Leodis McKelvin to free agency. In today’s NFL, passing is more prevalent than ever and in a long season where injuries pile up having able bodies at this position is increasingly vital. The Bills seemingly have a deep secondary now but one injury to either Stephon Gilmore or Ronald Darby and all of the sudden the unit looks thin on the back end.
Butler and White have shown flashes of good play at camp but you have to wonder if either can consistently outperform a healthy Lewis. Doug Whaley also has somewhere around $6M to work with in 2016 which should easily be enough to retain his services.
Ties to GM Doug Whaley and Pittsburgh Steelers
Bills General Manager Doug Whaley started his career with the Steelers working his way up to the title of Pro Scouting Coordinator before joining the Bills in 2010. During his time in Pittsburgh he developed a reputation of being able to pick good defensive players as he helped draft Troy Polamalu, Lamarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons.
In 2009, Whaley’s last year with the organization, the team took Keenan Lewis in the third round. There’s no doubt he had a role in that selection. In typical Steelers’ fashion, Lewis didn’t start until his third season in the league and then broke out in 2012 with 23 passes defended, earning himself a big contract with the Saints. There’s no denying the ties, so could GMDW go looking for a blast from the past?
What do you think, should the Buffalo Bills look into signing Keenan Lewis? Or should they just stick with what’s already on the roster and hope someone steps up? I think if his health checks out, it would be a smart move to try and acquire the veteran cornerback.