The Jets agreed to trade Lee to the Chiefs on Wednesday in exchange for a 2020 sixth-round pick, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. After the Jets were unwilling to pick up Lee's fifth-year option for 2020 earlier in the offseason, the team and interim general manager/head coach Adam Gase chose to ship the linebacker elsewhere. The 2016 first-round pick was left without a starting job after the Jets signed C.J. Mosley to a massive contract back in March. Lee is still on track to be a free agent next spring, unless the Chiefs are interested in discussing an extension before the start of the new league year. For now, Lee is expected battle for snaps in a linebacking core that already features Anthony Hitchens and Reggie Ragland.
The Jets did not pick up Lee's fifth-year option in time for Friday's deadline, Al Iannazzone of Newsday reports. By letting the deadline pass without picking up the option, the Jets ensured that Lee would become a free agent during 2020. The 2016 first-round pick will now be playing in a contract season while trying to improve on the career-low solo-tackle total (43) he generated last season.
The Jets don't intend to exercise Lee's fifth-year option ahead of Friday's deadline, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports. The news hardly comes as a surprise with reports coming out in March indicating that Lee was a candidate to be cut or traded following the free-agent signings of Avery Williamson and C.J. Mosley during the past two offseasons. Lee also missed the final four games of last season with a suspension for a substance-abuse violation, further hurting his standing with the team. The 24-year-old would carry only a $1.4 million dead-cap penalty if cut by the Jets before the start of the season.
Lee isn't participating in the offseason program, Connor Hughes of The Athletic reports. Neither team nor player has much incentive to risk an injury when there's a desire to work out a trade. With C.J. Mosley and Avery Williamson locked in as their top linebackers, the Jets presumably hope to deal Lee before or during the 2019 NFL Draft. The 2016 first-round pick had three interceptions last season and three sacks the year prior, but he was never known for consistency even before he closed out 2018 with a four-game suspension for a substance abuse violation.
Lee is a candidate to be traded or cut by the Jets, Matt Stypulkoski of NJ.com reports. With the Jets having brought in four-time Pro Bowl selection C.J. Mosley on a five-year, $85 million deal and Avery Williamson under contract with a $10 million dead-cap penalty for 2019, Lee appears to be the odd-man out in the team's linebacker corps. It's possible that the Jets elect to retain the 2016 first-round pick in a reduced role, but his talent in coverage and blitzing situations should garner him a solid trade market. Lee carries just a $1.4 million penalty for 2019 if the Jets decide to trade or cut him.
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