AVENTURA, Fla. — Darron Lee is in very unfamiliar territory — in more ways than one.
This is the first time the former Jets linebacker is on a playoff team in his NFL career. Lee has been inactive in both of the Chiefs’ postseason games, and there’s a good chance he will be again on Sunday when Kansas City plays the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. But he’s appreciating the entire experience.
“The whole atmosphere, the energy, it’s definitely cool,” Lee said. “This time last year, and for the past three years, I’ve been at home on the couch actually getting ready to start training again. To be here and have the opportunity to bring it home with an incredible group of guys is surreal.”
The Jets drafted Lee with the 20th pick in 2016, but they moved on from him in April in a move that was expected.
After the Jets signed Pro Bowl inside linebacker C.J. Mosley to a five-year, $87 million contract, Lee became expendable, but he was on shaky ground with the Jets even before that. He was suspended for the last four games of the 2018 season for violating the NFL’s anti-drug policy. He also was de-activated from a game in 2017 by former coach Todd Bowles for being late to practice.
The Jets traded Lee to the Chiefs for a sixth-round pick the same day they fired general manager Mike Maccagnan. Adam Gase was the acting GM, and he finalized a deal that already was in the works.
“I don’t get surprised by business decisions,” Lee said. “It’s a business at the end of the day. I don’t have any emotional ties. I got the call, I got traded. That’s the business. They made a business decision at that time. That’s it.”
One irony was that the Jets sorely needed linebacker help in 2019 and could have used Lee. Avery Williamson missed the season with a torn ACL. Mosley played in only two games because of a groin and core muscle injury. Injuries also sidelined Neville Hewitt and Blake Cashman for multiple games.
Lee said he wasn’t keeping tabs on the Jets. “It wasn’t my team anymore at that point,” he said. “I’m with the Chiefs. It’s unfortunate that those guys got hurt. I wasn’t really paying attention to it.”
Lee said he still keeps in touch with a few of his former teammates. Overall, he said, he enjoyed his time as a Jet.
“It was great,” he said. “Nobody likes losing. That was the main negative. The guys went to work. We were in a lot of close games when I was there. Just needed to take another step, a couple of pieces away, whatever the case may be. It is what it is. It’s in the past. But I enjoyed my time with those guys for sure.”