New England Patriots

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 10: Marqise Lee #11 of the Jacksonville Jaguars warms up on the field prior to the start of their game against the Seattle Seahawks at EverBank Field on December 10, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

By Ty Anderson,

New England Patriots wide receiver Marqise Lee remembers everything about the finish to the 2017 season.

In New England for the AFC Championship Game against Tom Brady and Co as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Lee got an up-close look at everything that the Patriots do as a team and how their resiliency can overcome almost anything. It was an eye-opening experience for the 2014 second-round pick. Same for the seasons that have followed. Just not in the way he’d like. After a torn ACL and MCL ended his 2018 season before it even started, a shoulder injury limited Lee to just six games in 2019, where he totaled a measly three catches and 18 yards before landing on the injured reserve.

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It’s the kind of career reset that accelerated his Duval exit and led him to the Patriots, where he’s hoping some of the traits of the Patriot program can rub off enough to get his career back on track.

“I just knew the last couple years I didn’t really have the opportunity to go out there and do the things I felt like I needed to do as a player,” Lee, who met with the media in a Wednesday video conference, admitted. “I felt like me choosing New England, just to go there as far as this season was in the sense of just trying to get back to myself. I felt like which place is the perfect place to get back and try to get back to yourself rather than New England – very strict, basically just all about football and handling your business.

“I feel like I was a little bit off on that point with these last two injuries, so I just wanted to get back right on track, get everything back on point, and I felt like New England is the right place for me.”

JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 25: Marqise Lee #11 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs for yardage during a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons at TIAA Bank Field on August 25, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Marqise Lee: “I just knew the last couple years I didn’t really have the opportunity to go out there and do the things I felt like I needed to do as a player.” (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

And Lee had to sacrifice a lot — at least in his wallet — to make that happen. After earning nearly $17 million in guaranteed money on his previous contract, Lee came to New England for the veteran minimum with just $300,000 guaranteed. The absolute most Lee can make as a Patriot in 2020, by the way, is just over a million bucks.

But at this point in his career — and with no real roadblock in Lee’s way should the 28-year-old have a healthy and productive camp for the Patriots — money’s obviously not the motivator.

“Just to be reliable in all aspects,” Lee said of his goal for the Patriots. “I’m the type of person, just try to get everything in which the team needs me to do. I’m never going to be specific like, ‘I just want to play this, that and the other.’ No, whatever they need me to do at the end of the day is what I’m willing to do, regardless of what it is. That’s my main focus. I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to really stay healthy in the league, so my main focus right now is really just staying healthy. And as I stay healthy, just try to do as much as I can just to help the team in whatever aspect they need me to help at.”

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If he can stay on the field (which is obviously a big if), Lee could be a noteworthy complementary piece for the Patriot attack, as he had a two-year run from 2016 through 2017 that featured 119 catches, 1553 yards, and six touchdowns over 30 games. And that was with Blake Bortles throwing him the ball. Blake! Bortles! Blake Bortles!

“If they need a healthy body, I’m here,” Lee said. “An opportunity to rock out and try to do as much as I can.”

(Are we sure this guy’s only been here for a few weeks?)

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.