The San Francisco 49ers are adding some depth to their wide receiver unit by signing veteran pass catcher Marqise Lee to a one-year deal following a workout over the weekend, the club announced Monday. In a corresponding move, the Niners waived receiver Austin Proehl. Meanwhile, Lee heads to San Francisco looking to get his pro career back on track after a number of speed bumps over the previous few seasons.
The 29-year-old originally entered the league as a second-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014 out of USC. It took him two full seasons until he really flashed his potential in the league, hauling in career-highs in receptions (63) and receiving yards (851) in 2016. He played all 14 of his games (all starts) the following season in 2017 and put up similar totals, which led the Jags to ink him to a four-year, $38 million contract extension in March of 2018.
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While it looked like Lee was just about scratching the surface of his career, things spiraled following the extension. Lee suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason that year and has yet to play a full season ever since. In 2019, he was limited to just six games before landing on IR in late October of that season and was eventually released by the club in April of 2020. Lee signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots not long has after he released from the Jaguars but announced last August that he'd be opting out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was released by the Patriots earlier this offseason on March 18.
For the 49ers, this is a low-risk addition to see what Lee has left in the tank. If he can stay healthy and return to something close to the player he was in 2017, he should be able to help the organization in 2021. If he can't, it won't impact the organization much at all, making this a worthwhile summer experiment.