9:07pm: The Jets have officially announced the signing.
3:14pm: Lee’s four-year, $10.2MM deal is fully guaranteed, but also includes default language that allows the Jets to recoup some of his guaranteed money if he is cut for non-football reasons, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets.
2:36pm: The Jets’ longstanding contract dispute has finally come to an end (No, not that one). The Jets and first-round pick Darron Lee have reached agreement on a contract, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
Reportedly, Lee was pushing for the fourth year of his contract to be fully guaranteed. Meanwhile, the Jets were only willing to give Lee a partial guarantee for the 2019 season.
It is not etched in stone where Lee will line up for the Jets, but hailed by The NFL Draft Report the “best defensive playmaker in the 2016 draft,” the Jets are certain to find a role quickly for their first round pick. For now, he’s listed behind Erin Henderson at right inside linebacker. Beyond that, veteran and inside starter David Harris might be looking for employment elsewhere in 2017, if Lee progresses as quickly as expected.
Henderson moves into the lineup, at least temporarily, after the Jets let Demario Davis leave in free agency despite finishing second on the team with 90 tackles last year. Still, it will not be long before he cedes playing time to Lee. Another player greatly affected by Lee’s arrival is Buccaneers castoff Bruce Carter, who was brought in to play the nickel package. With Lee’s cornerback-like speed, Carter will have to sit while Lee performs in that alignment.
Some draft analysts stated that Lee was a “work in progress” and “did not excite” in 2015 like he did in 2014 during the Buckeyes’ national championship march. Unknown to many scouts, at the time, but Lee was playing with a lower leg injury during the first half of his sophomore campaign. With several Buckeyes suspended earlier in the year, the strong-side linebacker felt that even on one leg, he needed to be out on the field.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.