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If Sean Lee Chooses to Keep Playing, Will it be With Cowboys?

Last week, announced in a that veteran Linebacker Sean Lee was still undecided on his future. But even if Lee does decide to push off another season, will he still still be playing for Dallas in 2021?

Now that the Cowboys have moved on from as their , Lee has become the longest-tenured member of the team’s . A 2nd-round pick in 2010, Sean joined Dallas one year before and several years before the majority of his teammates.

Lee would also be the oldest player on the team if not for for new swing . Sean turns 35 this July while Nsekhe, who was just added in , turns 36 in October.

While he isn’t the talent he used to be, Lee has provided value the last few years as the third starting LB and a capable backup to and . But his good days are fewer and farther between now, and other concerns about the LB position could push Dallas to look for younger options.

Sean may not give the Cowboys option as he reportedly considers retirement. We went through this last year as Lee thought about hanging it up but decided in mid-March to come back to Dallas.

Now it’s early April and we still don’t have a final answer. With talk that Dallas is openly courting veteran K.J. Wright in free agency, they may have already moved on from Sean Lee at this point.

Having played on a one-year contract in 2020, Lee is currently an unrestricted . Even if he wants to keep going he will need a new deal from the Cowboys or someone else to extend his playing career.

Dallas isn’t exactly loaded at linebacker right now. Their other top backup, , is now with the . With Justin March still unsigned in free agency, that leaves , , and the ’s Azur Kamara as the only depth players right now.

The Cowboys did sign veteran and are expected to move him to linebacker. But while that helps at the top of the , the backups still leave much to be desired.

Still, Sean Lee just may not be a good option anymore. He’s still a major liability with health, having missed 16 games the last three seasons. And outside of his one glorious day against the Rams in 2019, it’s been a while since we could say that Sean made a memorable impact on the field.

However, it’s possible that Lee could help in a different capacity. If he does retire, Sean’s future in seems a foregone conclusion. And even after one season, Lee seemed to have won over his new head coach.

Lee could have other suitors if he decides to go into coaching. With in New York and in Las Vegas, Sean will have advocates on at least two other NFL coaching staffs. Given his tenure and profile in the league, you can bet others would take interest just on reputation alone.

Dallas’ current Linebackers Coach is Scott McCurley, who was a longtime Packers assistant under McCarthy. But Sean could join as an assistant for at least one year before any bigger changes were considered.

At this point a return to the Cowboys as a player seems unlikely for Sean Lee. His retirement feels more certain with each day, and even if he doesn’t it feels like the team is moving on to other options.

But perhaps if he’s ready to get into coaching, Lee could still be part of the in 2021.

What do you think?

Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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8 Comments

  1. Sean Lee has been a great player for the Cowboys. He would still be a valuable backup, but I think he will probably retire. I only hope the Cowboys are able to find a young Sean Lee in the draft!

  2. STEPHEN- ur right u have to have a bit of a cut throat approach to personnel moves. Another successful franchise ( Patriots) were great at knowing when to cut ties with players, even the fan favorites. Bill B always had a knack for cutting or moving on from a player at just the right time.

    Again this is a weakness of our GM. He has favorite players and he has difficulty separating his personal feelings. He rewards average players with big contracts ( T Crawford) then sticks with them way too long. Also resigns the wrong players to big contracts ( J Smith/ Elliott) which has adversely affected our salary cap.

    I like S Lee but it’s time for him to move on to the next stage of his life. I wish him the best of luck. He represented the star with class.

  3. Hey Gary, it is definitely a business decision. You can’t reward a player for what he used to be. You have to pay him what he is able to bring to the next season. Lee is playing not like the Lee of old. He’s playing like an older Lee. If there is an opportunity to get younger, stronger and financially sound at a position, you do it. Kind of like LVE. He did not play worthy of the 5th year option last year. I don’t know if overpaying him is a good idea based on his play. He came into the league with neck questions and those questions were answered when he had to have surgery. Likable young man. I only want his best years of football and then the decision has to be made to trade, cut or let his contract play out. I’m not sure a huge payday is in order from what I’ve seen. I’m telling you guys, I do love my Cowboys but the current guys in their primes have not brought us a Lombardi trophy. Something has to give unless you want to watch Brady and the Bucs hoist it up for the next two years.

  4. Hey, BigD. Yes, I am a NFL fan. I’m a Cowboys fan since 1974. I’ve been a Sean Lee fan when he’s been healthy and able to play. In his prime, he was, as you say, a beast. He’s no longer in his prime. Stand up guy. Locker room leader. I’d love to have him as my neighbor and go fishing with him. However, like I said, it’s harsh but I’m a believer in the Bill Walsh method, the same method that brought many Lombardies to the Bay area. Something we haven’t seen in 25 years. Can’t even get a whiff of one but we just keep doing the same approach year in and year out. Just paraphrasing Walsh again when he was talking to his Pro Bowl Center, Randy Cross. He said “Randy, you’re going to have a long, great career but I only want the best five or six years of it. After that, you will finish your career somewhere else.” So, Walsh wanted players on the rise and in their prime. He didn’t want players that were declining. I don’t know, that philosophy only brought them five Super Bowls. I am in the mold of Walsh as a Coach/GM opposed to the JJ mold of GM. Lee? Great player in his prime when he was healthy enough to be on the field. I appreciate the effort he gave. Hey, BigD, happy Easter to you and yours. Stay safe. Stay well for tomorrow we celebrate more than football. Take care and I did enjoy reading your comment. Welcome aboard.

  5. STEPHEN GREGORY- Agree with you. I like S Lee class act on and off the field and one of the best cowboy LBs of all time.

    HOWEVER it’s a business and one of the weaknesses of Jerry J has always been getting too emotionally attached to his players, which often times leads to poor business decisions. Would love to have the general as a coach though.

  6. Wow, and your a die-hard fan? Where is your loyalty at? Sean Lee has been a beast with his 10 years in the BigD. I realize he’s not been the animal of late, but injuries happen, personally I think Dallas should step up and sign him for 1 more year and pay him in part for what he’s done as well as what he’s capable of doing and giving to any young guys that Dallas picks up. Just my opinion for what it’s worth. Plus 1st timer on your blog.
    Thanks for listening,
    BigDave

  7. I know it’s harsh but I kind of like the Bill Walsh approach which goes something like “You’re going to have a long, great career but I only want your best five or six years of it. After that, you will finish your career somewhere else.” That’s making the tough call. It’s time to move on from this great NFL player. I like him. I wish him well but it is time.

  8. Lee has been a great player for us, with all the attributes of an elite LB. He may have been borderline HOF type player if not for the injuries. Now, if the team feels he can be an effective backup and he wants to continue playing, I would say he should be able to have that role. Of course there will competition especially if we sign Wright and draft LB(s).

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