The New York Jets have reportedly shown interest in signing multiple free agent linebackers at the start of the new league year. This doesn’t bode well for the incumbent Darron Lee.
The New York Jets will have their sights set on numerous free agents this week, but a surprising development has been the team’s reported interest in numerous high-profile linebackers. Unfortunately, this isn’t good news for one of the Jets incumbent linebackers, Darron Lee.
Based on multiple reports, the Jets have shown interest in both Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander and the Baltimore Ravens’ C.J. Mosley. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that the team will sign either of them, it does show their lack of faith in their current roster.
The two starting inside linebacker spots are currently filled by Avery Williamson and the aforementioned Lee. Given that the Jets just signed Williamson to a 3-year, $22.5 million contract, it’s unlikely they would move on from him especially considering he played well last season.
That could leave Lee on the outside looking in.
Lee has had an up-and-down career since entering the league as a first-round pick in 2016. The Ohio State product struggled through his first couple of seasons in the NFL and his career trajectory appeared to be trending towards that of a draft bust.
But something seemed to click with Lee as he put together somewhat of a breakout 2018 campaign. The former high school quarterback picked up his first three career interceptions and had a career-high five pass deflected despite playing in only 12 games. Lee also secured the highest Pro Football Focus grade of his career by a wide margin scoring a solid 72.4 rating, ranking him as the No. 24 linebacker in the league.
However, just as it appeared that Lee would finally end a season on a positive note he was hit with a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. It would end his breakout 2018 season prematurely.
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Although Lee is just 24-years-old and will be entering his fourth season in 2019, the Jets recent linebacker interest makes it evident that the team doesn’t view him as a locked-in starter. Given his career struggles and recent off-field concerns, there’s no guarantee that the Jets opt to keep him going forward.
If the team does land either Alexander or Mosley in free agency, expect to see the Jets shop Lee around and try and pick up some extra draft capital as compensation. If they fail to sign either of them, expect to see Lee return in 2019 and make another case to remain with the team for the future.
Regardless, whichever way you look at it, the Jets interest in Alexander and Mosley isn’t exactly a bode of confidence in the young Lee. Then again, it’s not as if the Jets are completely unwarranted doing their “due diligence” in free agency.
This should be something to keep an eye on over the next few days, even if it does turn out to be all smoke and no fire.