Jets Trade LB Darron Lee To Chiefs

Interim general manager/head coach Adam Gase has made his first trade. The Jets are trading linebacker Darron Lee to the Chiefs in exchange for a 2020 sixth-round pick, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

The Jets and Chiefs had been discussing a deal involving Lee for weeks, tweets Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. Former New York general manager Jets GM Mike Maccagnan — who was fired at noon EST today — was reportedly holding out to acquired a fifth-round choice in exchange for Lee, but Gase, who’s taken over personnel authority on an acting basis, executed the swap for a sixth-rounder.

New York replaced Lee in a decisive fashion earlier this offseason, signing free agent linebacker C.J. Mosley to a record-breaking contract which made the ex-Raven the highest-paid off-ball LB in NFL history by a wide margin. Mosley will pair with holdover Avery Williamson as Gang Green’s primary linebackers, leaving Lee — who played on 90% of the Jets’ defensive snaps in the 12 games he played last season — without a starting role.

The Jets further distanced themselves from the 24-year-old Lee by declining his fifth-year option for the 2020 season in advance of the league deadline earlier this month. That option would have paid Lee $9.501MM for his fifth pro NFL campaign, but New York deemed that salary too expensive despite that fact that it would have been guaranteed for injury only.

Despite the low price cost of acquiring him, Lee should have a place in today’s NFL. Pro Football Focus not only graded Lee as the 24th-best linebacker in the league, but assigned him the fourth-highest mark in pass coverage. Additionally, the Jets ranked seventh in the NFL in defensive DVOA against running back receptions, meaning they were extremely effective on a per-play basis against backs in the passing game. That level of play in coverage is beyond valuable, even from the off-ball linebacker position.

While he’s moving on from the Jets and their crowded linebacker depth chart, Lee may have to compete for a clear-cut starting linebacker job on the Chiefs’ roster. Anthony Hitchens played like one of the worst ‘backers in the NFL after inking a five-year, $45MM contract with the Chiefs last offseason, but Kansas City can’t move on from him until 2020 at the earliest. If Hitchens stays in the starting lineup, Lee will be up battle Reggie Ragland (who played roughly 50% of the Chiefs’ defensive snaps a season ago) and Dorian O’Daniel (~25%) for work as KC’s second linebacker.

New York will take on roughly $1.326MM in dead money by trading Lee, while the Chiefs are only the hook for Lee’s base salary of ~$1..844MM. For that financial cost and a sixth-round choice, Kansas City will add another defender to a club that’s already seen the addition of Tyrann Mathieu and Alex Okafor in free agency, Frank Clark and Emmanuel Ogbah bytrade, and Juan Thornhill and Khalen Saunders via the draft. Of course, the Chiefs also parted ways with a number of high-profile defensive players, including Dee Ford and Justin Houston, Eric Berry, and Steven Nelson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

View Comments (25)
newest oldest

25 comments on “Jets Trade LB Darron Lee To Chiefs

  1. joeyrocafella

    A sixth round pick? Yeah, the Gase era is off to a good start… Freaking clownshow

    • phenomenalajs

      Agreed. Gregg Williams could’ve found a use for him. Considering how well the Chiefs usually play, that pick will probably be after #200. So it works out as mid-first-rounder in his prime and showing signs of improvement for a special teamer. SMH

  2. padam

    Gase gets hired as a coach, gets the interim GM job and makes a deal ‘before’ ever coaching a game for the team – the job he was hired to do…great job done by Jets ownership.

    “The 2019 NY Jets – striving to make the Giants look competent.”

      • rocky7

        Well if this trade is an indication of what to expect with your new head coach/GM, I think I’d check that comment for awhile.
        A 6th rounder from an annual playoff team….nothing but cannon fodder in return for a LB who actually graded out pretty well….guess the Jets wanted to spend some of that cap rather than develop players internally don’t they!
        Stash the Giants comments Bub until we see exactly how these two teams compare competitively and in wins! The Jets have 1 Super Bowl to brag about and most of those who comment weren’t even born when that happened.

  3. wellyou'rewrong

    Trade a dude just as he turns the corner. Gase was definitely a bad hire.

    • baumrind973

      I almost want to say that Johnson fired the wrong guy. However, by giving this guy control over the players, well how much further can this team fall? The Browns have jumped ahead of them. Oh. Did anyone tell Gase that the goal is to be #1 and not #32? Johnson should do this right. Hire a GM. Let the GM hire the coach. Isn’t that a novel idea? Call me a long suffering Jets fan and the future doesn’t look any brighter than it did 5 days ago.

    • Begamin

      Maybe so, but probably Lee was probably worth more than a 6th rounder. And to make that decision as interim GM? the kahonas on that guy. its not even his job he shouldnt be making those types of decisions

        • Begamin

          yeah i accidentally used probably twice in one sentence. my mistake. you know when you are writing a sentence and then you restructure said sentence as youre writing it and it has remnants of the old sentence? thats probably what i did there ((((probably)))), probably

      • phen0menal

        You are only worth what the market sets as your worth. The article shows they couldn’t get a team to bite on a 5th so they went with a 6th. He was a terrible mlb and they are lucky to get anything for him

        • Begamin

          I meant that he was probably worth more than a 6th rounder to the Jets if he just stayed on the team and contributed that way. Not that there were better offers on the table/better offer on the market.

  4. Armaday

    If they couldn’t find at least a 4th rounder, they could have kept him for depth. Gase making a loud statement here.

  5. Chris

    I don’t really understand this deal at all. Surely they could’ve just held on through training camps when some player inevitably gets injured and they could’ve gotten more than a 6th round pick. Really don’t understand the urgency to get rid of what the metrics say is a good player

Leave a Reply