By now, you know the New York Jets traded away linebacker Darron Lee to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a 2020 sixth-round pick on Wednesday evening. The 24-year-old former first-round pick already looks like a solid fit for the Chiefs.
Following the news, both local and national media members chimed in with some more in-depth insight about the 6-foot-1 linebacker. Here are five things to know about the newest Chiefs linebacker:
1. He’s coming off of a career season in 2018
While Lee’s three-season tenure with the Jets was disappointing — his 2016 and 2017 grades lingered just below 50.0 — his 2018 numbers show that he’s trending up. A change of scenery, staff and teammates could be just what Lee needs to really shine and succeed in 2019.
New #Chiefs Addition: LB Darron Lee— PFF KC Chiefs (@PFF_Chiefs) May 16, 2019
-55.1 Run D
-50.8 Run D
-79.2 Pass Rush
-56.9 Run D#ChiefsKingdom https://t.co/lw3xSmuqWX
Darron Lee heads to Kansas City. His career grades are trending up after a career year in 2018. pic.twitter.com/IDDPXzwmi4— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 16, 2019
2. He’s healthy
Our in-house medical expert, Aaron Borgmann, checked into Lee’s health profile, and by the looks of it, the Chiefs are acquiring a player that has remained mostly injury-free during all three of his NFL seasons.
New #Chiefs LB Lee has only missed 3 games in NFL due to injury: all in '16 w/ an ankle. He did miss 4 games however last season as he was suspended for violating substance abuse policy. It appears on surface that team is getting a healthy player@ArrowheadPride— Aaron Borgmann (@RehabAllStar) May 16, 2019
3. It’s a low-risk move for the Chiefs
This is a move that makes a lot of sense for Kansas City from a financial standpoint. They’re getting a player with three years of NFL experience and promising potential for a small, one-year commitment.
Darron Lee is owed $1.8 million this season. The #Chiefs can cut him with zero dead money. It’s a 2020 6th round pick for a lottery ticket at a position of need. Why not?— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) May 16, 2019
The Chiefs will still have six picks (after the 4th round compensatory pick for Steve Nelson) in the first 5 rounds in 2020.— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) May 16, 2019
4. There’s a chance he could start
Reports say that Lee wasn’t part of the Jets’ plans for 2019, and that was made clear when they declined a fifth-year option that would have paid him nearly $10 million in 2020.
And while he may not have been on New York’s depth chart for this coming season, he has an opportunity to make an immediate impact and compete for the starting weak-side linebacker (WLB) role for the Chiefs in 2019.
Darren Lee, per source, appears to be set to compete for the starting WLB role for the Chiefs. The Chiefs are trading a 2020 6th-round pick for a player with plenty of potential to be an asset in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.— Nate Taylor (@ByNateTaylor) May 16, 2019
Interesting move; seems like direct competition with Dorian O’Daniel for nickel LB snaps https://t.co/yEK27gF3mm— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) May 16, 2019
5. He brings a versatile skill set
Lee wowed at the 2016 combine, testing as an elite athlete at his position and posting an impressive 40-yard dash time, in addition to a solid vertical jump.
Lee offers speed and athleticism — positioning him as an excellent asset for a defense that could benefit from what he can bring to the table.
Adding Darron Lee and his 4.42 40-yard dash gives the Chiefs defense a ton of speed and creates some competition within the LBs.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) May 16, 2019
Expect him to push for a starting job at either MLB or WLB and be a factor in sub packages.
Darron Lee never became a field-tilter with the Jets, but his speed and range could have a meaningful impact in a Chiefs linebacker corps that lacks athleticism. https://t.co/UU8aG2RHqP— Jason B. Hirschhorn (@by_JBH) May 16, 2019
Per PFF, Lee was fourth in coverage and twenty-fourth in the NFL. Obviously the Jets didn’t see it that way. But I think this is a very smart buy-low move.— TOM MARTIN ™️ (@TomKCTV5) May 16, 2019
And (most importantly) it looks like quarterback Patrick Mahomes is excited to welcome his new teammate to Kansas City.
Perhaps the first off-field team activity will be a Game of Thrones watch party?