The Buffalo Bills have been looking for help on the defensive side of the ball and it looks like they are bringing in a former 1st round pick for reinforcements.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, former New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Darron Lee, who was the 20th pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, was visiting Buffalo on Thursday. Rapoport reported Lee was expected to sign to either Buffalo’s practice squad or their 53-man active roster after passing his physical and going through covid-19 protocols.
Through the first seven weeks of the season, the Bills have had troubles on the defensive side of the ball and a player like Lee, who recorded 31 tackles and played in all 16 regular season games for the Kansas City Chiefs last season, could help the linebacking core that has struggled with depth this season.
A Troubled NFL Career
Lee didn’t play during the Chiefs postseason run in 2019 but he did start two of their 16 regular season games and tallied eight tackles against the Houston Texans in his second start of the year. After not re-signing with the Super Bowl champions in the offseason, Lee was suspended in September for the first four games of the 2020 NFL season, according to a tweet from ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates.
This was the second suspension of Lee’s career. According to Pro Football Rumors, Lee was suspended four games in December of the 2018 season after violating the leagues substance abuse policy. He had started all 12 games for the New York Jets that season and recorded 74 tackles and three interceptions.
Before his suspension, he was set to top a sophomore season in which he had 94 total tackles, three sacks and nine tackles for a loss. The Jets traded him to the Chiefs ahead of the 2019 season.
A Former Buckeye
Lee was one of those hometown heroes in college. He grew up just outside of Columbus in New Albany, OH and went to high school at New Albany High. In a Bleacher Report article from 2015, Ben Axelrod reported that Lee had to convince Urban Meyer to bring him on board and attended numerous summer camps to prove his worth to the legendary coach.
“He came to camp, like five or six times, (and) I rejected him probably four times,” Meyer told Axelrod in that Bleacher Report article. “Shows you how good an evaluator I am.”
The 6-foot-1, 232-pound inside linebacker went on to play three years for the Buckeyes and tallied 138 tackles, 11 sacks and three interceptions.
Is Lee a Project?
Given his past, you’d have to think the Bills are taken a flier on Lee. But, with their struggling defense and lack of depth at linebacker, they have to be willing to see what he can bring to the team, despite his past.
He’s shown he’s capable of playing well at the linebacker position and with Matt Milano slowly returning from an injury and Tremaine Edmunds playing banged up, Buffalo could use depth at the position. Whether he joins the practice squad or the 53-man active roster immediately, Lee provides that depth for the Bills and could produce for them moving forward.
The Bills just did make another roster move earlier this week regarding their linebacking core when they signed Andre Smith to their 53-man active roster. Smith has played special teams for the Bills in three games this season.