The Denver Broncos are looking for speed at the linebacker position. They should definitely try to trade for Darron Lee, then.
The Denver Broncos are seemingly in the market for more speed at the linebacker position, and lucky for them, there’s plenty of speed available yet this offseason. One of the fastest and most high-profile linebackers still available is former first-round pick Darron Lee of the New York Jets.
Lee is not available as a free agent, unfortunately, but could be had via trade.
According to Benjamin Allbright, an NFL insider based in Denver working with Orange & Blue radio this week, has been talking about Lee and the Broncos being a possibility.
This tweet also alludes to Michigan’s Devin Bush being an option. More on him the closer we get to the 2019 NFL Draft.
Why does it make sense for the Broncos to try to trade for Lee?
Well, first and foremost, they would be filling their need for speed at the position. Lee ran a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. At 6-foot-1, 232 pounds, that is blazing.
That speed has translated pretty darn well to the football field, though the Jets obviously feel like Lee is not in their future plans at this point.
The proof there is in the fact that two of the Jets’ most substantial investments in the last two years have been at inside linebacker with Avery Williamson coming over from Tennessee in 2018 and now CJ Mosley coming from Baltimore.
Just 26 going on 27, Williamson led the Jets in tackles last year. Mosley is not going to be coming off the bench at $17 million per season. The Jets will have suitors for Lee and the Broncos should be one of them.
Lee is 24 years old, heading into the last year of his rookie contract. The team trading for him will have the opportunity to pick up his roughly $9.4 million option on a fifth year.
Aside from that option, however, the Broncos would be paying just $1.8 million (approximately) of base salary for Lee this season.
The biggest issue with this trade is the fact that it only involves one year of this player in the system, and the Broncos have been making all multi-year moves at this point.
Would they be willing to trade for Lee and pick up that $9.4 million option with the numbers being thrown out there now for guys like Kwon Alexander and Mosley? I’m not 100 percent sure of that.
The more cost-effective move would be to draft a guy, but Lee is a proven commodity who excels in coverage. He was in the top five in the NFL last year among linebackers in coverage efficiency, and also picked off three passes.
He’s shown over the course of his career that he can be valuable as a blitzer as well.
The Jets aren’t going to get much for Lee given the fact that the writing is on the wall for him and he has one year left on his deal. Still, this would be worth a fifth or sixth-round pick for the Broncos.