In a trade with the New York Jets, the Chiefs acquired linebacker Darron Lee. So once again, the Chiefs have made another change to the defense heading into 2019. In return, the Jets receive a 2020 6th round pick.
Following his time spent at Ohio State, the Jets selected Lee in the first round (20th overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft. As a rookie, he was deemed a backup by then head coach Todd Bowles. But steady production from Lee, as well as starting linebacker Erin Henderson becoming inactive for the second half of the season allowed for an increased role. Despite missing three games in the middle of the year due to an ankle injury, Lee finished strong. He had 73 combined tackles, three pass deflections and one sack in nine starts.
In 2017, he had career highs in games played, combined tackles, and sacks during his time spent with New York. However, the defense was hurt a lot that season by some of his penalties. Due to penalties Lee was fined over $72,000 that year. Those include calls like roughing the passer, late hits and an excessive face mask.
Last season, the results Lee had were very similar to his rookie season. The biggest improvement in his game in 2018 came in pass coverage. Lee compiled five pass deflections, three interceptions and one pick six. While he had a fine season, the end was not what the Jets would have hoped for. The NFL suspended Lee for the final four games of the year due to a substance abuse violation.
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Change of Scenery
The Jets brought in a completely new regime for 2019. New York declined Lee’s fifth year option on his contract, making him a free agent after 2019. So, it seemed a move was coming. Reports also suggest that a trade of Lee had been in the works for a few weeks. The potential in Lee is there. A nice change of scenery while joining a playoff ready team may untap that side of his game in Steve Spagnuolo‘s defense.
What This Means For the Chiefs
The Chiefs will look completely different on defense this season, both on paper and the television screen. Lee is expected to compete for a starting linebacker spot. As he’s coming off his better two seasons, Lee has a strength to play in space and be a nice coverage linebacker.
As mentioned, Lee is a guy who has the ability to take a leap forward in his play. He is a former first round pick after all. This was also a nice pickup for the Chiefs, as they did not have to offer a lot in trade compensation with a 6th round pick in next year’s draft. Lee will also only account for $1.8 million against the salary cap. Kansas City would be held for zero dead money if they were to cut him. Most of all they added an athletic, rangy defender at a position of need. There’s no reason why the Chiefs should not take a chance on Darron Lee.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.