Last week, Cowboys Head Coach Mike McCarthy announced in a press conference that veteran Linebacker Sean Lee was still undecided on his future. But even if Lee does decide to push off retirement another season, will he still still be playing for Dallas in 2021?
Now that the Cowboys have moved on from L.P. Ladouceur as their long snapper, Lee has become the longest-tenured member of the team’s roster. A 2nd-round pick in 2010, Sean joined Dallas one year before Tyron Smith and several years before the majority of his teammates.
— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) March 25, 2021
While he isn’t the Pro Bowl talent he used to be, Lee has provided value the last few years as the third starting LB and a capable backup to Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. 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 free agent. 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, Joe Thomas, is now with the Houston Texans. With Justin March still unsigned in free agency, that leaves Francis Bernard, Luke Gifford, and the practice squad’s Azur Kamara as the only depth players right now.
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 coaching seems a foregone conclusion. And even after one season, Lee seemed to have won over his new head coach.
“Sean Lee approaches the game like a coach for me,” Mike McCarthy on Lee just now.
Coach, may I make a suggestion for next season?
— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) December 21, 2020
Lee could have other suitors if he decides to go into coaching. With Jason Garrett in New York and Rod Marinelli 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 Dallas Cowboys in 2021.