Darron Lee
(Rick Osentoski / AP Photo)

An awkward offseason just became stranger for Darron Lee. The New York Jets declined the fifth-round option on their 2016 first-round pick.

Geoff Magliocchetti

According to Brian Costello of the New York Post, the New York Jets are declining the fifth-year option on linebacker Darron Lee.

Lee was the Jets’ first-round pick in 2016. He was chosen with the 20th overall pick out of Ohio State. The inside linebacker struggled in his debut, but showed signs of pulling it together over the past two seasons. He totaled 74 tackles last season, as well as three interceptions. One was returned for a touchdown, the first of his career.

The strong season, however, was cut off early with a four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. This offseason has brought winds of change to Lee’s career. Rumors have frequently surfaced about a possible trade. Those rumblings only intensified with the Jets adding C.J. Mosley this offseason.

One popular rumor is that Lee could reunite with former head coach Todd Bowles, one of his biggest supporters in New York. Bowles is now the defensive coordinator in Tampa Bay.

It’s possible Lee could still be moved, though Lee could also work under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. General manager Mike Maccagnan somewhat addressed Lee’s status in his post-draft statements last weekend.

“Darron has played and done some good things for us,” Maccagnan said via Costello. “We’ll see how this unfolds going forward. I think we have some very good competition at a lot of positions. We have very good depth at a lot of positions. We’ll see how it unfolds going forward.”

The Jets will engage in organized team activities later this month.

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