Darron Lee

NFL Clears Jets’ Lee, Williams

The NFL has cleared a pair of former Jets first-round picks. Neither linebacker Darron Lee nor defensive lineman Leonard Williams will face league punishment stemming from their an altercation at the Governors Ball Music Festival on Randall’s Island in June. Darron Lee (vertical)

[RELATED: Latest On Hackenberg, Petty, Kickers]

Following a review, we concluded there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that there was a violation of the personal conduct policy,” an NFL spokesman said in a statement.

Reportedly, Williams pushed Lee away as he was arguing with a woman who may have been his girlfriend. One eyewitness said that Lee’s argument with the woman turned physical, but the league found no proof to substantiate that claim. Williams, it seemed, was simply trying to break things up. Neither player was arrested.

Lee, a 2016 first-round pick, appeared in 13 games (nine starts) with the Jets last season, compiling 73 tackles and one sack. Williams, a first round choice in 2015, had seven sacks and 68 total tackles last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Smith, Jets, Bolts, Steelers

The Jets reached out to retired wide receiver Steve Smith about playing in 2017, the former Panther and Raven told Kim Jones of NFL Network (via Chris Wesseling of NFL.com). It’s unclear when that occurred, and it seems like an odd move for a rebuilding team that has spent the offseason dumping 30-somethings (including receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker). Regardless, the 38-year-old Smith isn’t coming back, and Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets that the Jets were merely doing their due diligence when they contacted him.

More on Gang Green and two other AFC clubs:

  • The Chargers announced Tuesday that first-round receiver Mike Williams will miss the rest of their offseason program with a mild disc herniation in his lower back. Williams has been dealing with the injury since suffering it on the first day of minicamp nearly a month ago, and head coach Anthony Lynn implied in late May that the ex-Clemson star was behind the 8-ball as a result. Now, Williams could be at risk of beginning training camp on the physically unable to perform list, notes Kevin Patra of NFL.com.
  • A report in 2015 linked Steelers linebacker James Harrison to performance-enhancing drugs, and though the NFL didn’t find any evidence against him, it’s still suspicious of the pass rusher, writes Joshua Axelrod of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The NFL tested Harrison for PEDs for the third time this offseason on Tuesday, leading the 39-year-old to suggest on Instagram that the league is insulting his intelligence by claiming the tests are random.
  • The league is looking into the dispute that occurred between Jets linebacker Darron Lee and his girlfriend at the Governors Ball music festival last Saturday in New York City, per Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday. The Jets also investigated the altercation, but they quickly cleared Lee of any wrongdoing. “He had an argument with his girlfriend,” said head coach Todd Bowles. “What do you want me to discipline him (for)? He had an argument with his girlfriend and somebody took a photo.” Bowles added that he spoke with “10 people” about the incident before deciding discipline wasn’t in order for Lee.

AFC Notes: Jets, Chargers, Ivory, Maclin

A video emerged on Twitter this weekend allegedly showing Jets linebacker Darron Lee in an apparent altercation with a woman at the Governors Ball Music Festival on Randall’s Island. The video shows a man shouting at a woman, and the Twitter user claimed the individual proceeded to “manhandle her’’ and “call her names.’’

Jets defensive end Leonard Williams can also be seen in the video physically restraining his teammate, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. Williams’ Instagram account showed that quarterback Bryce Petty was also at the festival.

We are aware of the reports,” a Jets spokesman said (via Schwartz). “We are taking them seriously, and we are looking into the specifics of the situation. We will have no further comment at this time.”

Lee, a 2016 first-round pick, appeared in 13 games (nine starts) with the Jets last season, compiling 73 tackles and one sack.

Let’s take a look at other notes from around the AFC…

  • Danny Woodhead signed with the Ravens this offseason, so ESPN.com’s Eric D. Williams took a look at current Chargers who could replace the departed running back’s production. The writer points to Branden Oliver and Kenjon Barner as players who could serve as the pass-catching back behind starter Melvin Gordon.
  • We learned yesterday that running back LeSean McCoy was recruiting former teammate Jeremy Maclin to join the Bills. Now it looks like quarterback Tyrod Taylor is also looking to touch base with the free agent receiver. “Today was the first day I seen Shady,” Taylor told Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News. “We texted about it, but [I] want to get Maclin’s number and try to reach out to him. Just to see what his thoughts, what is he thinking moving forward and try to get him here.”
  • After a season that saw him compile only 439 rushing yards, Jaguars running back Chris Ivory wants to prove that he’s still capable of starting in the NFL. Unfortunately, despite his experience, the veteran has fourth-overall pick Leonard Fournette breathing down his neck. While the odds seem to be against the 29-year-old, he’s still confident that his 2016 woes are a thing of the past. “One thing about it, people and everybody are going to have their opinions,’’ Ivory told John Reid of the Florida Times-Union. “Mainly, the people that know nothing about football. They don’t know the things we go through to get to this point. What we actually face before we come out for those games…Most of the stuff the people on the outside see are the mistakes and the bad things you do. It’s not always going to go the way you want. I think a lot of people that like to see guys get a 1,000 yards each year, but it just don’t work that way.’’

Jets Sign Darron Lee

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."<strong

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.

Recently, scouting guru Dave-Te Thomas spoke highly of Lee when breaking down the Jets’ rookie class for PFR:

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.

There are now only two first-round picks that are not under contract with their respective clubs. Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa and 49ers guard Joshua Garnett have yet to sign on the dotted line.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Notes: Fitzpatrick, Lee, Bohanon

For the first time in months, we have a bit of positive news on the talks between the Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Some people who know the quarterback well believe his standoff with the Jets will end sooner rather than later, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com tweets. That’s a sharp deviation from the reports we’ve heard in recent weeks, which basically have indicated that there has been little discussion between the Harvard product and Gang Green.

While we wait to see how things shake out with the Jets and their 2015 MVP, here’s more out of East Rutherford:

Jets, Lee Clashing Over Fourth-Year Guarantee

The Jets still do not have their first-round pick under contract as they get ready for training camp, even though more than 90% of this year’s first round selections have signed their deals. So, what’s the holdup? It is believed that linebacker Darron Lee is pushing for the fourth year of his contract to be guaranteed, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes. Darron Lee (vertical)

[RELATED – Impact Rookies: New York Jets]

Players chosen from No. 1 through No. 19 receive fully guaranteed salaries, per the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. Lee, who was taken No. 20 overall, falls outside of that range. However, Texans wide receiver Will Fuller was taken at No. 21 and received a fully guaranteed salary for his final year. Fuller and Lee are both represented by CAA’s Todd France, so it only makes sense that Lee’s camp is insistent on a guaranteed fourth-year salary.

So far, the Jets have only been willing to give Lee a partial guarantee. This year, the Redskins gave No. 22 pick Josh Doctson a partial guarantee of $1.2MM on his $1.8MM salary for year four. In 2015, the Eagles did roughly the same with No. 20 overall pick Nelson Agholor when they guaranteed him $1.1MM of his $1.7MM salary in the fourth year of his contract. Since the Jets are willing to give Lee a partial guarantee, the two sides are effectively haggling over $600K in guarantees. Ultimately, the deal will almost certainly get done, but not before some further wrestling between France and Gang Green.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Impact Rookies: New York Jets

The old adage that defense wins championships may or may not be true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title-winning team that didn’t build heavily through the draft. Rookie classes, naturally, are evaluated on the perceived upside of the NFL newcomers, but which rookies are ready to contribute right out of the gate? And, how do they fit in with their new team schematically?

To help us forecast the immediate future of these NFL neophytes, we enlisted the help of draft guru Dave-Te Thomas who has served as a scouting personnel consultant to NFL teams for multiple decades.

Today, we continue PFR’s Impact Rookie series with his insight on the New York Jets’ draft class:

It has been a strange off-season for the Jets, as they seem to be taking a disregard to their recent past, holding the contract line firmly on 2015 starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and one of the best defensive linemen in the game in Muhammad Wilkerson. They failed to impress with their “temporary” solution to the Fitzpatrick stand-off by using their second-round draft pick to snatch Penn State erratic signal-caller, Christian Hackenberg.

Even if Fitzpatrick had signed, the Jets were going to look at addressing their future at quarterback anyway, as their starter in 2015 has had a journeyman’s like career to date. Still, they fail to impress Jets fans with the addition of Hackenberg, if it means that Fitzpatrick will turn into a training camp stalemate. They can’t be serious about turning the reins over to Geno Smith, could they?

Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey has been talking up Smith, citing his maturity, but his obvious lack of leadership skills (see last season’s locker room debacle) and marginal performances to date makes Jets faithful hope that Gailey can create magic in the huddle this season. One option not talked about often is the development of 2015 third round pick, Bryce Petty. Still, like Hackenberg, he is still unproven at the professional level, leaving the Jets to ponder if they want to risk a season as a playoff observer or come to some kind of solution with the Fitzpatrick situation.

While the Jets did not address their quarterback situation in the way that many fans would have liked, they did pick up some interesting talents at other positions in this year’s draft.

First Round – Darron Lee, LB (Ohio State, No. 20 overall)

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. Darron Lee (vertical)

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 San Francisco cast-off, 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.

Lee recovered just in time – for the late season tough part of the schedule. He recorded at least seven tackles with one stop behind the line of scrimmage and one quarterback pressure in each of his final four appearances. While he delivered 66 tackles (36 solos) for his final season at Ohio State, it is how he compiled those statistics that were even more impressive.

On 53 plays he made vs. the running game, Lee limited his opponents to an average gain of a minuscule 0.68 yards per attempt. The longest gain vs. the linebacker was a 9-yard scamper. He delivered eleven crunching third-down stops and another on a fourth-down play vs. those ball carriers, posting fourteen of those tackles inside the red zone, including four on goal-line stands. In addition to taking down thirteen runners for losses, ten more were tackled at the line of scrimmage for no gain. He also made five touchdown-saving tackles after runners broke free from other Ohio State defenders in 2015.

Read more

Seven Rookies Remain Unsigned

Updated on June 25th, 2016 3:32pm CT

The overwhelming majority of the rookies in the 2016 draft class have officially signed. However, as we approach July, we still have a small group of stragglers. Seven rookies have yet to put pen to paper with their respective teams and that group includes three first-rounders: Joey Bosa (Chargers, No. 3), Darron Lee (Jets, No. 20) and Joshua Garnett (49ers, No. 28). Joey Bosa (vertical)

[RELATED: Download The Must-Have Trade Rumors App Today]

Bosa, of course, stands as the most high-profile player yet to sign his rookie pact and his negotiations are also the most public of the bunch. This week, agent Todd France and team president of football operations John Spanos both discussed the negotiations in radio interviews and it appears that the two sides aren’t even in agreement as to what the disagreement is all about. Spanos says the two sides are hung up on the idea of offset language. France, meanwhile, says there are other reasons behind the protracted talks, including cash flow.

The latest Collective Bargaining Agreement has made rookie contracts much simpler than they used to be. Every rookie from No. 1 through (roughly) No. 256 receives a four-year deal with varying salary amounts based on where they are selected. However, offset language is among the key clauses which may be discussed. If a player with offset language in his contract his released midway through the deal, the original team is only on the hook for the difference in salary between the two contracts. Without offset language, the player can effectively double dip and collect two paychecks. Naturally, there are many player agents who are disinclined to forfeit that potential earning power.

Of the seven players without signed deals, four of those players are third-round picks. That’s because contracts in the third round are, for some reason, far less regulated than the rest of the draft. While third round picks have slotted signing bonuses like everyone else, the base salaries can be brokered and that’s probably at least part of the holdup for these four rookies. However, one pattern to note is that first-rounders Bosa, Lee, Fuller, and Garnett are all represented by powerhouse agency CAA.

Here is the complete list of 2016 rookies who have yet to complete their contracts with signatures and initials:

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

New York Jets

San Diego Chargers

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Harbor, Bills

Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has frustrated and disappointed fans with his hard-line stance on the Ryan Fitzpatrick and Muhammad Wilkerson contract negotiations, but Rich Cimini of ESPN.com commends Maccagnan for at least being willing to take an unpopular position and hold his ground in a pragmatic way that suggests he has the club’s long-term interests at heart. Cimini adds that Maccagnan’s approach is a refreshing change of pace from that of predecessor Mike Tannenbaum, who often made decisions with an eye towards fan and media approval. Of course, now that Maccagnan has drawn a line in the sand, he cannot back down for fear of losing credibility in the agent community, but he also cannot afford to enter the season without Fitzpatrick and Wilkerson.

As we wait to see if Maccagnan can pull off this delicate balancing act, let’s check out a few more links from the AFC East:

  • In the same piece, Cimini says he would be surprised if Wilkerson reported to Jets training camp–after all, he’s not under contract, so he cannot be fined for missing camp–but he would also be surprised if the Pro Bowl defensive end missed any regular season games. Perhaps the two sides can work out a deal wherein Wilkerson agrees to play out the 2016 season for the amount of the franchise tender ($15.7MM), and the team agrees to not use the tag on him again in 2017.
  • In a separate article, Cimini reports that the mother of Jets rookie linebacker Darron Lee, Candice Lee, has quit her job as a reporter and weekend anchor for WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio, and will serve as Darron’s manager. She will devote her time to handling her son’s off-the-field affairs, including endorsements and marketing (of course, there is not yet any money to manage, as Lee is one of four 2016 first-round draft picks who have yet to sign their rookie contracts).
  • Now that Patriots No. 3 tight end Michael Williams suffered a season-ending ACL tear, free agent acquisition Clay Harbor becomes the favorite to assume that role, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. However, Reiss cautions that even though Harbor received a $400K signing bonus–which is significant for a player for Harbor’s caliber–he will still have to earn his spot on the field (after all, the team handed out a $450K signing bonus to Reggie Wayne last year, and Wayne’s tenure as a Patriot lasted all of two weeks).
  • Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com takes a look at the best and worst contracts on the Bills, and he concludes that the best contract is Tyrod Taylor‘s fairly modest pact, while the worst is Marcell Dareus‘ mega-deal that he signed last year. Fitzgerald goes into detail on both contracts, and the whole piece is well worth a read.

AFC Notes: Lee, Marshall, Robinson, Chargers

First-round linebacker Darron Lee is the only remaining unsigned Jets draft pick, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com examines why that might be the case, noting that players drafted 18th overall or lower in the first round have a little bit of space to negotiate. Lee, selected with pick No. 20, might be arguing for a full guarantee in the fourth year of his rookie contract, as Cimini notes that Ryan Kelly (No. 19 overall) has a full 2020 guarantee, while Josh Doctson (No. 22 overall) only has a partial guarantee. With rookie deals being essentially slotted, minor guarantee disputes are just about the only area for agents to actually negotiate.

More from the AFC…

  • Brandon Marshall‘s current contract with the Jets runs through the 2017 season, and while he didn’t give a definitive answer when pressed on whether he could play beyond that, he did acknowledge that he would retire if he didn’t feel the drive to compete any longer. “Some players, they know they don’t got it anymore and their heart is not in it, and they still take the money,” Marshall told Darryl Slater of NJ.com. “That’s taking advantage of your team. I get that it’s a business and get everything you want, but you’ve still got to hold yourself accountable and be accountable to your teammates. When I no longer have it, I’ll walk away.” 
  • After Allen Hurns inked a four-year, $40MM extension with the Jaguars last week, fellow receiver Allen Robinson is likely the next in line, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com, who adds that that Robinson could garner $70-80MM over a five-year term. Robinson can’t be extended until after the 2016 season, nor can quarterback Blake Bortles or center Brandon Linder, both of could also be up for long-term deals. Linebacker Telvin Smith, meanwhile, could the be the odd man out, in DiRocco’s view.
  • The Chargers‘ offensive line should be better if it’s simply healthier, but relying on oft-injured players to stay healthy is not always a good strategy, as Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com writes. San Diego will count on two players — left tackle King Dunlap and center Matt Slauson — who are already 30 years old and have dealt with various ailments in the past. At center, at least, the Chargers do have a young option in third-round pick Max Tuerk.