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    Is 2018 LB Sean Lee’s Last Season with Cowboys?

    After an with major roster changes and a significant youth movement, one can't help but look at Linebacker Sean Lee as one of the last men standing for the older veterans. While he's certainly sticking around this year, could 2018 be Lee's last season with the Dallas Cowboys?

    With , , and all departing over the last two months, a wave of change has hit the . As we saw with Bryant and Scandrick, the Cowboys are willing to cut a veteran leader if the cap savings and other circumstances make it logical.

    Sean Lee will be one of just three players 30 or older this season. The other two are specialists, and L.P. Laoduceur. Those players tend to last longer than their offensive and defensive teammates.

    That makes Lee the old man on campus. And as you would imagine, he carries a significant hit given his tenure and performance.

    Sean's contract runs through 2019. He is set to count a little over $10 million against next season's cap. The Cowboys can save $7 million if he's released.

    Head, Shoulders, Knees, And Toes: Injuries Make Sean Lee Untrustworthy?
    Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

    A couple of months ago, I discussed why the Cowboys may not want to restructure Lee's contract to create cap space. Not only is Sean getting older, but his issues were back last season with five missed games.

    Dallas didn't restructure, leaving themselves the leverage to handle Lee's contract next season in whatever way is best for the organization.

    A year ago, I floated the idea that Dez Bryant's wasn't restructured for the same reason. Many scoffed at the notion that Bryant could be released, but we saw what happened.

    From a purely financial standpoint, cutting Lee would be even easier than Dez. He would create $7 million in cap space with only a $3 million dead money , whereas as Bryant's was $8 million saved but another $8 million in dead money.

    Unlike Bryant, though, Sean Lee is still performing as one of the top players at his position. He's still justifying his salary, provided his health allows him to stay on the field.

    After missing all of 2014 with a knee injury, Sean returned with consistency over the next two years. He's been one the elite linebackers in the NFL, but last year was a setback.

    A few weeks ago, Dallas spent their first-round pick on Linebacker . While there was a present need for more LB talent, it also speaks to the Cowboys preparing for a future without Sean Lee.

    Is 2018 LB Sean Lee's Last Season with Cowboys?
    Dallas Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch

    Ideally, Vander Esch and will be the team's key LB duo for years to come. While Jaylon may move to the SAM role in 2018, his ball skills are suited for the WILL role that Sean Lee plays now.

    In the modern era, NFL teams often have just two linebackers on the field with nickel formations. Those will likely be Lee and Smith for most of 2018, but Vander Esch should come into the rotations at times.

    If the young guys have strong seasons, it will give the Cowboys even more freedom to consider letting Sean Lee go next year. But before he can become a cap casualty, Lee will get a chance to show whether or not he's actually a liability.

    It's entirely possible, if not probable, that Lee will still be the best LB on the team this season and one of the best in the league. That would give him security that Dez Bryant and Orlando Scandrick didn't have this offseason.

    If Dallas want to stick with Sean Lee in 2019, they should be able to find the cap space to do it. They will have $24 million in dead money coming off the books, mostly from and Dez Bryant's contracts but a few others as well.

    So really, Lee's future comes down to what he does on the field this season. If he's still Sean Lee, All-Pro linebacker, then he should still be a Cowboy going forward. But if age or injuries bring him down, it could easily be his last ride in Dallas.

    Not that Sean needed extra motivation. One of his most endearing qualities is how he treats every game and every play like the is in the line.

    But Lee will undoubtedly feel the pressure. He'll look around at a changed locker room, the elder statesman, and know what it could mean for his future.

    Nobody can predict that future, but like with Dez Bryant last year, some of the warning signs are showing. As such, 2018 could be Sean Lee's last season as a Dallas Cowboy.

    Jess Haynie
    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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    9 COMMENTS

    9 Comments
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    GoNavyBeatArmy

    Dallas already has $66mil cap space available next season, not counting what they roll over from this season. They have no need to ‘create cap space’. I seriously doubt Lee will be cut next year.

    Antón Calo

    Sean lee is the best LB mind in the entire nfl. If you see the all or nothing serie about dallas cowboys you realize he’s not just a former cowboys LB, he must be in the franchize for years to come. If he cant play anymore jones family must keep him as a LB coach or someplace else on the staff team, as they have done with QB last year (this year tony romo’s Backup QB will be Qb coach)

    Travis Diggs

    Sean lee ain’t going nowhere but then again i didn’t think Dez was going anywhere so you never know. When he gets hurt this year we’ll see how this new look group looks without him, that will be the key in deciding his future with the team

    elindio42

    Lee is in a completely different situation than Bryant or Scandrick. He can still play!

    I was not surprised that Dez was cut this year. He was declining in production and was becoming a large distraction and a diva.

    Chuck Wright

    If not this year then next will be his last most likely.

    Oddly enough after going WR and LB in 2018, Dallas’ 2019 draft needs to figure on LB and WR as two need spots again. Next year I see biggest needs S, LB, WR, 1 Tech (not that the FO cares) and maybe TE

    Antón Calo

    making next year Dallas’ 2019 draft needs with out playing this year is imposible… if the year is bad, you may have to look for another QB or new bad positions, if the year is good and the rookies made a good job, LB might not be a need if you play with only two (Jaylon an Van der each) as they did last season with a nickel formation.
    in addition, dallas have near 24k in death cap this year (tony romo, bryant, etc.), and next year none (by now).
    with that money, you can extend irving, lawrence, zack martin (the only started free agent) and may be pick up earl thomas as a free agent. Surely, new needs will appear during the season (maybe new OT if tyron smith’s injury problems continue?)

    Hector Espindola

    NO shortcuts there, Dallas will honor Lee’s contract till it’s end, because his game hasn’t decreased and cap hell is behind. No way he leaves until FO is sure that Jaylon and LVE are their natural heirs, which, in my opinion, would not happen in the next couple of seasons. After that, and as the outstanding player and captain Lee has been, FO will offer him a last friendly season backup contract if Lee’s body is up to the task or a coaching job as retirement at 34 years old. If Jaylon and LVE want to be the best versions of themselves, they have to approach the game as Lee does. Lee is the last standard.

    EverybodyTalks

    Lee has always had a contract that has been team friendly. Not to high, not to low…just right. They have even restructured on his contract a few times. I think he stays to play, but more importantly, to further tutor LV55. That tutoring also applies to Jaylon, especially since he will be the eventual successor on the weak side.
    Then in 2020, Lee becomes the defensive coordinator and Kris Richard becomes our new head coach.
    Garrett moves on to coach elsewhere, with his back-to-back SB rings from 2018 & 2019.

    Michael White

    I remember reading the article about Dez and told my friends and bro that if Dez didn’t have a monstrous year he would be cut. And it happened. Sean Lee is different..he is productive and he isn’t a problem child. He is actually beneficial to the locker room..i think there will give him the Jason Whitten treatment..that is if he is healthy and productive…That being said I still look for us to draft another LB next year maybe in 2nd or 3rd round


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