The athletic linebacker is coming off a lost 2020 season
The Buffalo Bills have added tremendous depth to their linebacker group this offseason, ensuring that a scenario like last year’s nightmare—an injury to Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds at the same time—won’t leave them scrambling for suitable replacement players. Granted, replacing linebackers of that ability level is nearly impossible, but general manager Brandon Beane recognized that the team was in a bind last year, and he has done his due diligence to give the team better options in the event of some more injuries.
The Bills have made quite a few free-agent signings at linebacker this offseason. In total, the team has inked three veteran players to contracts in the last few months. In today’s installment of our “90 players in 90 days” series, we profile one of those veteran additions.
Name: Marquel Lee
Height/Weight: 6’3” 235 lbs
Experience/Draft: 4; selected in the fifth round (No. 168 overall) by the Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders in the 2017 NFL Draft
College: Wake Forest
Acquired: Signed as UFA on 3/31/2021
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Lee inked a one-year contract with Buffalo in March. That contract is worth a total of $970,000, which also constitutes his salary cap hit for the year if he makes the roster. The Bills are on the hook for $25,000 in dead-cap charges if Lee doesn’t make the final roster.
2020 Recap: Lee had surgery on his right ankle in June, a surgery unrelated to the ankle injury that caused him to miss most of the 2019 season. In 2019, Lee injured his left ankle; in 2020, it was his right ankle that ended his season before it began. The Raiders waived him on August 3 and he didn’t play at all during the season.
Positional outlook: Lee joins a linebacker group that looks the same at the top as it did in 2020, but looks a lot different in the reserves. Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano, A.J. Klein, Tyrel Dodson, Tyler Matakevich, and Andre Smith all return, with Mike Bell, Joe Giles-Harris, and Tyrell Adams joining Lee as newcomers vying for a roster spot.
2021 Offseason: Lee is healthy and he participated in OTAs.
2021 Season outlook: Lee is a longshot to make the team, as his injury history coupled with a lack of production put him behind players young and old, holdover and newcomer. At worst, however, he is a quality depth player for camp and the preseason. The Bills have better young players (Dodson and Smith) and better veterans (Adams and Giles-Harris) to keep behind that top group of Edmunds, Milano, Klein, and Matakevich. Lee is likely auditioning for a spot on someone else’s roster.