Outside linebacker Manny Lawson was among 21 players released by the Buffalo Bills ahead of Saturday's deadline to reach 53-man rosters.
The 11th-year player missed the first two weeks of training camp due to a pectoral injury suffered while weightlifting, and the Buffalo News reported last month that Lawson is facing a one-game suspension stemming from a 2014 misdemeanor domestic violence incident.
Lawson had been listed as the second-team outside linebacker behind Jerry Hughes on the team's depth chart.
Also released was fullback Jerome Felton, which paves the way for Glenn Gronkowski to open the season as the team's primary fullback. The younger brother of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is a rookie out of Kansas State.
Also released were: tight end Blake Annen, linebackers Kroy Biermann, Randell Johnson and Max Valles, wide receivers Jarrett Boykin, Kain Colter and Dez Lewis, defensive linemen Brandon Deaderick, Lavar Edwards, Max Valles and Casey Walker, running backs Boom Herron and James Wilder Jr., offensive linemen Marquis Lucas, Chris Martin, Cyril Richardson, and defensive backs Mario Butler, Sterling Moore and Sammy Seamster.
Lawson's departure comes as a surprise considering the lack of proven depth behind Hughes and Lorenzo Alexander, who is slated to start on the other side. His primary backups had been Valles and Biermann. The only other outside linebacker listed on the three-deep depth chart had been rookie Bryson Albright. Johnson had been running with the second team in the middle behind starter Preston Brown, so the Bills are looking at a lot of youth among their reserves along the front seven.
Lawson spent the past three seasons with the Bills, appearing in all but one game over that span, including 14 starts in 2015 when he registered a modest 36 tackles with one sack, five passes defensed and an interception.
It's unclear if the off-field incident played a role in the team's decision to part ways with the veteran.
Lawson acknowledged last week that there was an incident in 2014 in which he was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct/domestic violence, but Lawson said there was no physical violence. That case was dismissed after he completed a diversionary program.
"(It was) disorderly conduct, domestic because it happened at home," Lawson said. "No physical violence. I'm being investigated and we'll see what the NFL has to say about it."