Former Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee will play for his third different team since the New York Jets traded him in 2019.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Las Vegas Raiders have signed linebacker Darron Lee, the New York Jets‘ top pick from their ill-fated 2016 draft class. Lee, 26, joins his third different team since the Jets traded him after the 2018 season.
Raider signed the former Jets’ first-round pick, LB Darron Lee.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 17, 2021
The Ohio State alum was chosen 20th overall by the Jets in 2016. With that selection, the Jets passed on future Pro Bowl defenders like Kenny Clark, Jaylon Smith, Chris Jones, and Xavien Howard, all of whom went within 20 picks of Lee.
Despite the guidance of head coach Todd Bowles, Lee was unable to find his groove in New York after bursting on the national scene through Defensive MVP honors in OSU’s upset win over Alabama at the 2015 Sugar Bowl. Lee’s major struggles both in pass coverage and as a run defender contributed to his downfall, as did a series of suspensions and fines.
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Lee’s eventual final metropolitan season got off to a good start, as he took his first career interception back for a touchdown in an opening week win over Detroit. However, his 2018 season ended prematurely through a four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. The Jets declined his fifth-year option and later traded him to Kansas City for a sixth-round pick in 2020 (which was later dealt to Indianapolis for cornerback Quincy Wilson).
Over the last two seasons, Lee has worked with the Chiefs and Buffalo Bills, partaking as a reserve in Kansas City’s Super Bowl LIV run (though he did not partake in any postseason games). He had one tackle in two appearances with the Bills last season, but once again did not appear in the playoffs.
The Jets officially closed the book on Lee’s draft class this season, letting his fellow linebacker Jordan Jenkins walk to Houston. None of the seven players chosen by the Jets that year remain with the team. The class is perhaps best known for the infamous selection of Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the second round.
Lee wasn’t the only defender the Raiders signed on Thursday. Las Vegas also announced that they added cornerback De’Vante Bausby, who spent last season in Denver and Arizona. In a corresponding move, the team released cornerback TJ Morrison.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags