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Why trading Darron Lee was the right move for the Jets

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 08: Darron Lee #58 of the New York Jets celebrates a play in the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 08: Darron Lee #58 of the New York Jets celebrates a play in the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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The New York Jets wasted little time making moves after firing their general manager, but was trading away Darron Lee the right decision?

In his first act as interim general manager, new head coach Adam Gase traded linebacker Darron Lee, a former top-20 draft pick, to the Kansas City Chiefs for a sixth-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft.

It is a somewhat puzzling move for the Jets, since Lee still has some promising talent. Alternatively, the Jets obviously have their reasons to make such a move. So, let us search beneath the surface and see why they made this trade:

  • Darron hasn’t lived up to the high expectations since he came to the Jets as a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft.
  • In 2018, Lee was suspended several games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
  • Physically, Lee is somewhat undersized for the NFL game. While his athleticism is rare for a linebacker, his lack of ideal bulk left him lacking in run support against bigger, more physical blockers.
  • With the addition of C.J. Mosley, Lee’s underachieving play made him expendable on the depth chart heading into the 2019 season.
  • It had been problematic for former general manager Mike Maccagnan to strike a deal, but Gase wasted little time pulling the trigger once he took over.

The issue of keeping a player on a team, versus sending him off always relies heavily on what he has brought to the Jets. In this case, Lee came to the Jets in 2016 and with him came hopes – that even if his stature is not so hefty, he makes up for that by his overall impact on the team, as well as his effort on the field. And in Darron’s case, there have been shortcomings in both quarters.

Lee joined the Jets in 2016, and he started showing some promise in 2017. But despite some flashes of brilliance in 2018, Lee’s suspension and inconsistent play cast a dark shadow over his best moments.

At the end of the day, some drawbacks cannot be ignored, and Lee simply had too many. And, since it seems that the Jets are trying to start a new page, trading Lee became a priority.

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