Darron Lee

Bills Place John Brown On IR, Promote Jake Kumerow

Injury issues have interfered with John Brown building on his strong 2019 season. His second Bills slate has included missed games and will now feature at least three more absences.

The Bills are placing Brown on IR. An ankle malady forced Brown to come out of Week 10’s Bills-Cardinals game. Brown already dealt with a knee injury this season, one that forced him to miss two games. He is now guaranteed to be out until at least Week 15.

Buffalo will promote wide receiver Jake Kumerow from its practice squad. After news of his season-ending injury, Cody Ford will join Brown on IR. The Bills are also promoting linebacker Darron Lee from their practice squad. Lee landed in Buffalo earlier this season.

When on the field, Brown has been fairly productive this season. The former Cardinals and Ravens deep threat has four 70-plus-yard games this season. The Bills signed Brown to a three-year, $27MM deal, and the accord preceded the ex-Division II superstar’s second 1,000-yard season as a pro. Brown, 30, caught 72 passes for 1,060 yards and six TDs in 2019, helping foster Josh Allen‘s development.

While Brown has taken an expected backseat to Stefon Diggs this season, he still represents a key component of Buffalo’s passing game. His IR placement will require Cole Beasley and rookie Gabriel Davis to play bigger roles.

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Josh Norman Tests Positive For COVID-19

Nov. 15: Luckily for Norman, he is asymptomatic, as Ed Werder of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). Norman understands that he cannot play today due to league protocols, but he says he feels well enough to do so. The team hopes to have him back shortly.

Nov. 14: The Bills have run into a COVID-19 issue ahead of their trip to Arizona. Josh Norman tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the team, and this will result in at least four Bills not traveling for their Week 10 game.

Norman, cornerback Levi Wallace, safety Dean Marlowe and tight end Tyler Kroft landed on Buffalo’s reserve/COVID-19 list. The latter three players — deemed as high-risk close contacts — must isolate for five days.

As of now, Sunday’s Bills-Cardinals game remains on as scheduled. The team is set to travel to Arizona later this afternoon. Defensive assistant Leonard Johnson will join the aforementioned quartet of players in not making the trip to the desert.

This is not the first time Saturday news of a Bills positive test emerged to weaken one of their position groups. Dawson Knox tested positive for COVID-19 late last month, and the Bills placed two other tight ends on their COVID list that day. The NFL did not adjust the game time of the Bills’ rematch with the Jets. The league has not changed a game time because of COVID-19 since Week 7. With virus numbers skyrocketing around the country, similar challenges to the one that prompted the NFL to move a Bills-Titans game to a Tuesday night appear on the horizon.

Norman signed a one-year, $6MM deal with the Bills — one of several ex-Panthers to rejoin Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane in Buffalo this offseason — but began the season on IR. He returned for three games but has missed the past three due to a hamstring injury. He had practiced all week and was expected to return against Arizona, however. The Bills also recalled Wallace from IR earlier this season.

They will face the Cardinals’ No. 1-ranked offense with a depleted secondary. The team will promote some reinforcements, however. The Bills elevated Daryl Worley, Darron Lee, cornerback Dane Jackson, wide receiver Jake Kumerow and safety Josh Thomas from their practice squad.

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NFL Practice Squad Updates: 11/2/20

We’ll keep track of today’s practice squad moves here:

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Detroit Lions

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Philadelphia Eagles

Washington Football Team

Bills Expected To Sign LB Darron Lee

Darron Lee has not played since the 2019 season, having begun this year with a suspension. But the Bills are looking into adding the former Jets first-round pick.

The Bills are hosting Lee for a second time, per ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). The NFL banned Lee for four games to start this season, marking the second time the once-coveted prospect has served a four-game suspension.

Lee is expected to sign with the Bills — either to an active-roster deal or practice squad agreement — soon, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Buffalo has seen starter Matt Milano bounce in and out of its lineup this season. He and Tremaine Edmunds have combined to miss four games. Both are on track to face the Patriots in Week 8, but unsigned players do not factor into the Week 8 equation anyway. UFAs must pass six COVID-19 tests six days apart before beginning practice with their new teams.

Upon being traded to the Chiefs prior to last season, Lee played in all 16 Kansas City regular-season games last year and collected a Super Bowl ring. He did not play in any of the Chiefs’ three playoff games. After being a Jets regular for three seasons, Lee played on just 14% of the Chiefs’ defensive snaps. The Ohio State alum’s best season came in 2017, when he registered 94 tackles and three sacks while playing 92% of the Jets’ defensive snaps.

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NFL Suspends LB Darron Lee

Darron Lee‘s return to NFL action will have to wait until at least October. The former first-round pick has encountered another suspension.

The league handed the free agent linebacker a four-game suspension, ESPN.com’s Field Yates tweets. The Chiefs did not re-sign Lee this offseason.

This marks Lee’s second NFL ban. The league sidelined him four games for a violation of its substance-abuse policy in December 2018. Lee had started all 12 of the 2018 Jets’ games leading up to that penalty. However, the Jets cut their losses via trade in the following offseason.

After failing to justify the Jets’ first-round investment, Lee made some contributions to the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV run. Kansas City acquired Lee for a sixth-round pick and featured him in all 16 regular-season games. The Ohio State alum made 31 tackles last season. Lee, however, did not play during the Chiefs’ postseason slate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Workout Updates: 8/24/20

Here are Monday’s notable workouts:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

AFC Notes: Dareus, Broncos, Green, Chiefs, Darnold

Marcell Dareus will undergo surgery today to repair a core muscle injury, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The defensive lineman is expected to miss 4-6 weeks for Jaguars.

Here’s more around the AFC:

  • Broncos coach Vic Fangio said it was “possible” that CB Bryce Callahan will miss the rest of the season, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. Callaham underwent stem cell treatment on his foot last month and the original projection was 4-to-6 weeks.
  • A.J. Green did not practice today for the Bengals and isn’t expected to play against the Rams in London, Ben Baby of ESPN.com tweets. LT Cordy Glenn will also not play in the contest.
  • DE Frank Clark (neck), DT Chris Jones (groin), LB Darron Lee (illness) and CB Kendall Fuller (thumb) all missed practice for the Chiefs today, Herbie Teope of Kansas City.com tweets. Patrick Mahomes is practicing again for the second-straight day.
  • Sam Darnold was limited in practice today, Brian Costello of the New York Post relays (Twitter link). Darnold was a non-participant for the Jets on Wednesday because of a toe ailment.

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.

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Jets Decline Darron Lee’s Option

No surprise here, but the Jets will decline the 2020 fifth-year option on linebacker Darron Lee, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Lee, who has been a rumored trade candidate for a long time, is on course for unrestricted free agency following the 2019 season. 

Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has been working hard to push the idea that Lee is still in the team’s plans, but it’s hard to believe him at this point. Earlier this offseason, the Jets added free agent linebacker C.J. Mosley on five-year, $85MM contract, making the underperforming Lee expendable. Now, Lee’s 2020 option – which would have been guaranteed for injury only – has been declined. Lee very much remains a trade candidate and he’s a name to keep an eye on between now and September.

Lee tallied 94 tackles and three sacks in 2017, but he took a step back in 2018, finishing with 74 tackles and no sacks in 12 games. To his credit, Lee did compile a career-high three interceptions last year, but he also missed four games due to a substance abuse ban.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Rosen, Patriots, Darron Lee, Bills

The Dolphins weren’t the only team interested in trading for Josh Rosen, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson writes. Jackson sites an NFL official who was in contact with the Cardinals after the trade was announced, and mention the Patriots as another team that was attempting to acquire the 2018 first-rounder.

Rosen, of course, ended up in Miami, and New England took its own quarterback when it tabbed Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham in the fourth round. In the weeks leading up to the draft, New England was mentioned, along with several other teams, as a potential landing spot for the quarterback.

With other teams being interested, it helps explain why the Dolphins were willing to part with a 2019 second-rounder, and a fifth-round pick in 2020.

Here’s more from around the AFC East:

  • Teddy Bruschi thinks the Patriots might have been led to draft N’Keal Harry in the first round because of the physical presence Josh Gordon brought to the team last year, ESPN’s Mike Reiss writes. “They get him last year, put a 6-3, 225-pound target out there and see what a great piece it was for them, how great it was for Tom Brady,” Bruschi theorized. “Maybe that changed the perception of what they might need.” Of course, the Patriots haven’t picked a receiver in the first round in the Bill Belichick era, so the theory could be accurate.
  • Sticking in New England, the video that led to the arrest of team owner Robert Kraft will eventually be released to the public, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes. The judge ruled the tape can be released in a way that won’t taint the jury pool.
  • The Jets have been shopping linebacker Darron Lee throughout the offseason, and that isn’t expected to stop now that the 2019 draft has concluded, Pro Football Talk’s Darin Gantt writes. Lee became expendable once the team brought in C.J. Mosley.
  • Also in New York, team general manager Mike Maccagnan has reportedly been on the hot seat. If the team does make a change, one exec to keep an eye on is Joe Douglas with the Eagles, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora tweets. La Canfora mentions the Eagles exec has ties to Jets first-year head coach Adam Gase.
  • The Bills made a splash in the undrafted free agent pool, signing local product Tyree Jackson. Buffalo reportedly couldn’t believe the Buffalo quarterback wasn’t drafted, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes“He was on our draft board to be drafted. I’m surprised. You saw his name still sitting there late in the seventh, and you start going, ‘Man, if this kid doesn’t get drafted, we’re going to have to go after him.’ And we did,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said. Jackson is expected to compete for the team’s backup spot to Josh Allen.
  • The Dolphins already boast 12 picks in the 2020 draft. General manager Chris Grier says that is to be the rule going forward, the Miami Herald’s Adam Beasley tweets. Beasley predicts the team is expected to use its cap space next offseason to buy even more draft picks rather than signing top free agents.