Former Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee made national headlines when Jets head coach and acting GM Adam Gase sent the former first-round pick (2016) to the Chiefs for a 2020 sixth-round pick.
The move came just hours after the Jets fired general manager Mike Maccagnan and promoted Gase, who was hired as head coach in January.
The Jets and Chiefs had been discussing a trade for weeks but failed to come to terms. Maccagnon wanted a fifth-round pick for Lee, but Gase evidently was content with a sixth-round selection, per Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer.
The trade came nearly two weeks after the Jets elected to decline Lee’s fifth-year option, which meant that instead of paying the former national champion $9.5 million for the upcoming season, Lee would make $1.8 million and would become a free agent in March 2020.
Lee was the No. 24 linebacker in the NFL in 2018, per Pro Football Focus. The former Buckeye recorded 74 tackles (43 solo), five tackles for loss, five passes defensed and three interceptions, including a pick six, but missed the final four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
The New Albany (Ohio) product had impressed during his second NFL season in 2017 as well, particularly as a pass rusher. Lee tallied 95 tackles (67 solo), nine TFL, three sacks, six quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and three passes defensed in 15 starts.
Prior to his pro career, Lee was a two-year standout for the Scarlet and Gray, totaling 146 tackles (89 solo), 27 TFL, 11 sacks, three forced fumbles, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and three defensive touchdowns.
Moving onto Kansas City, Lee will line up at linebacker next to former Iowa standout Anthony Hitchens, a Lorain, Ohio, native, who signed a five-year, $45 million contract ahead of last season.
The Chiefs did not feature any Buckeyes on their 2018 roster, but added two in Lee and running back Carlos Hyde, who signed a one-year $2.8 million deal in March.
It has been an interesting offseason for the Jets, with a report coming out that Gase and Maccagnan disagreed on some personnel matters, including Maccagnan’s decision to sign Le’Veon Bell to a four-year, $52.5 million deal with $27 million guaranteed. The deal gave Bell the second-highest annual salary among backs, behind only Todd Gurley of the Rams.
Jets CEO and chairman Christopher Johnson explained to reporters what the franchise is looking for in its next general manager on May 15.
“I want to find somebody that just looking forward, not talking about Mike [Maccagnan] here, I want a great strategic thinker,” he said. “It’s more than a talent-evaluation guy. I want a great manager, a communicator, who can collaborate well with the building. I’m convinced we’re going to find that person.”
As for Lee, it appears he will be welcomed with open arms by reigning NFL Most Valuable Player Patrick Mahomes, who is the Chiefs’ starting quarterback and apparently a fan of HBO’s award-winning drama Game of Thrones.
— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) May 16, 2019
I’m coming straight to your locker with HELLA theories! Be ready!! 😂✊🏾 https://t.co/JnrFUth9xu
— Darron Lee (@DLeeMG8) May 16, 2019