Marqise Lee has some unpleasant history with the New England Patriots. The former second-round draft pick, who spent the first six years of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, faced off against the team twice so far — losing both games in memorable fashion. In 2015, the Jaguars were blown out by the Patriots 51-17 in a game that saw Lee catch just one pass for 13 yards. Two-and-a-half years later, he returned to Gillette Stadium as part of a much improved but still ultimately unsuccessful team.
Even though the Jaguars fielded one of the best defenses in football in 2017 and were able to jump to a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship Game, Lee and company again came up empty-handed against New England: behind outstanding performances by Tom Brady, Danny Amendola and Stephon Gilmore, among others, the Patriots erased the late-game deficit within just six minutes to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl with a final score of 24-20.
Lee’s four receptions for 41 yards are merely a footnote nowadays, but he himself still has memories of the second and so far last postseason game of his career.
“That game was crazy,” the 28-year-old said during his introductory media conference call a short time after the Patriots signed him as an unrestricted free agent. “I’m not going to lie to you, I enjoyed it. Of course, New England came out on top. But it just showed the resiliency of New England in my eyes. We’ve seen them in a lot of opportunities just as far as games where they’ve been down and they just fought and came back.”
“One vivid memory on that sideline with Jacksonville, I remember thinking, ‘Alright, we’ve just got to finish this out and we’ll be fine.’ Even knowing what they had over there, you could just see it in their eyes they’re not giving up,” he added. “They’ll continue to fight and continue to rock out. That’s what I’m looking forward to. I feel like none of that left from that team, regardless of who’s here or not. I feel like everybody on this team is willing to fight and that’s just their mentality. I’m the same way. I’m just coming in and trying to help.”
The willingness to fight that he mentioned when talking about his first impressions of the Patriots is also something that can be found in him.
Shortly after the Jaguars’ loss in New England in January 2018, Lee signed a four-year, $38 million contract to stay with the club with which he started his career. The next two seasons were marred by injury, however, and he went on to appear in just six games during that time: Lee missed all of 2018 after suffering a devastating knee injury — he tore his ACL, MCL and PCL — during the preseason, and also ended the 2019 season on injured reserve due to a shoulder issue.
His injuries in combination with his contract situation eventually led to the Jaguars releasing the veteran wideout earlier this offseason, and the Patriots subsequently being able to pick him up on a minimum-salary contract. In New England, meanwhile, he is trying to get his career back on track. The first step in doing that is showing that he can contribute from a physical perspective and play whichever role the team will ask him to play.
“I’m the type of person, just trying to get everything in which the team needs me to do,” the new Patriot said. “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, I just try to do as much as I can just to help the team in whatever aspect they need me to help at,” he added. “I’m just here — if they need a body, I’m here — a healthy body, an opportunity to rock out and try to do as much as I can.”