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Should the Cowboys Restructure LB Sean Lee’s Contract?

Jess Haynie

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Sean Lee

Needing to free up cap space before the 2018 NFL free agent market opens next week, the Dallas Cowboys have a few different options available. One involves restructuring the contract veteran linebacker Sean Lee, but Dallas will need to give it some serious thought.

Some restructuring, such as what we'll likely see with Travis Frederick, is a no-brainer. The All-Pro center hasn't missed a game in five years with the club and turns just 27 this month. He is signed through 2023, when he'll be 32 years old, and figures to play out that full contract.

Sean Lee, certainly every bit as good a linebacker as Frederick is a center, has a different set of circumstances. The defensive leader will already be 32 as of July. He missed four games last year due to injury; a scary reminder of his health problems from past seasons.

Lee is set to count about $11 million against the Cowboys 2018 salary cap. With a restructuring, his base salary of $7 million could be whittled down to make at least $5 million in immediate cap space.

If this happens, Sean's final contract year in 2019 would become almost untouchable. As it stands, next year has about a $10 million cap hit and $3 million in guaranteed money. Freeing up money in 2018 turns it into guaranteed money in 2019, meaning Dallas would have little-to-no flexibility in cutting Lee next season.

Sean Lee

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

Some may have no issue with that, assuming the Cowboys would have no reason to part with the captain of their defense. But if Lee were to have more injury issues in 2018, or if being 32 years old finally started to show up in his play, the Cowboys might want to have the option to part ways.

If Dallas does nothing with Lee's contract now, they could cut him in 2019 for about $7 million cap space. Every dollar they'd convert now lowers that number, and thus reduces their leverage.

Unfortunately, the Cowboys may have to forego future leverage for the present.

After placing the franchise tag on defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence yesterday, the Cowboys lost about $17 million in cap space. They are down to almost nothing with free agency opening on March 14th.

There are other moves to make, such as we discussed with Travis Frederick. Dallas could also restructure Tyron Smith and Jason Witten, or makes some easy cuts with guys like James Hanna and Benson Mayowa.

And of course, there's also whatever they decide to do with Dez Bryant.

Ideally, the Cowboys would not touch Sean Lee's deal and keep their 2019 option open. But they will be certainly be tempted to restructure him given the potential relief, banking on two more great seasons on the defensive leader.

While Dez may present the toughest choice of 2018, the contracts of veterans like Lee and Witten aren't far behind. The Cowboys have to find the right balance between past, present, and future to make this offseason a success.



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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7 Comments
  • XaqFields

    I’m very disappointed you’re not even considering the Dez Bryant 8-year extension idea I floated to you yesterday.

  • Travis Diggs

    Its crazy how the most often injured player on the roster never has to restructure his contract ever. Sean Lees injured Every damn season but they rather make everybody else restructure

  • Derek Robinson

    Dallas should restructure who’s ever contract they need to get this team back on a long playoff run. Quit talking about it, and be about it.

  • EverybodyTalks

    Sean Lee is a question. Spotrac shows a restructure total of 4 million. It looks like a restructure each year over the last 4 years. Maybe I’m reading it wrong. I think the Cowboys should go for a restructure/extension of a couple of years. Take some from Sean and use it to keep Hitchens. Sign Hitch to a 3 or 4 year deal and draft a LB, maybe 2.

    • BUDDY

      Not enough picks to draft two linebackers! We have way too many holes to fill and not enough draft picks! We literally need like 10-12 draft picks and even if we did have that many we would need all of them to actually be quality draft picks and how often does that happen?

      • EverybodyTalks

        Buddy, Thanks for your reply. Not sure I can agree with ‘Needs”, maybe you’re thinking “Wants”. We have 10 picks so that matches your concern of 10-12. Please tell me where you see these 10-12 positions holes. We will need a Safety to fill the slot left by Byron Jones going to CB. Therefore, we don’t “need” a CB, especially with Marquez White on the PS. We definitely need a Guard, even if we resign Cooper. We need an LB, maybe two, but that depends on what we do with Hitchens. We don’t need a QB, a TE (we have 5), or a WR. We do need a interior DL3, with Mayowa being released. We do have Tapper returning. We need a back-up Swing Tackle and hopefully we leave Chaz Green as a Back-up for Tyron. So a S, DL3, G, and a LB. Those are definite “holes”. The rest are back-ups and developmental positions – OT, QB, RB, WR.That is still only 8. Therefore, I see the possibility of a late round LB.

  • TD4SPORTS

    Let Lee play this year and cut him next year or let him be the backup in 19 and don’t resign him after next year. We need LB depth with Speed and toughness, Lee is good when he is healthy but time is catching him. It’s time for Lee and Whitten to retire, yes they have been Great but it’s time to get more from their positions.

Game Notes

#DALvsCIN: Can WR Lance Lenoir Continue To Impress?

Kevin Brady

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Lance Lenoir

Entering training camp projecting who would make the final roster from the Dallas Cowboys wide receiving room was a crapshoot. The combination of misfits from other teams, unproven young guys, and a couple of Cowboys veterans makes this position group the most questioned across the entire roster.

But while Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, and Michael Gallup were stealing headlines, Lance Lenoir was making a name for himself among the Cowboys faithful.

After serving on the practice squad for the Cowboys a year ago, Lenoir seems to have entered 2018 with one goal in mind: to make the official game-day roster. And even if he falls short of this goal, it won't be due to any fault of his own.

Day in and day out Lance Lenoir has been a consistent wide out, catching nearly everything thrown his way and running some of the crisper routes on the team. Under new receivers coach Sanjay Lal, Lenoir has become a technical route runner and dangerous receiving threat.

Maybe most importantly for his future with the team, Lenoir has developed an obvious chemistry with starting quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott has continued to compliment Lenoir throughout training camp, and you know that the Cowboys front office is well aware of Prescott's trust in Lenoir on the field.

During the preseason opener against the 49ers, Lance Lenoir caught his first touchdown of the season, dazzling with his toe-tap ability. If he is going to steal a roster spot away from one of the more seasoned wide outs, however, he will have to remain that consistent target.

This Saturday, Lenoir gets another shot to prove why he's not only deserving of a roster spot, but of a starting spot. Sure, it might be a bit of a stretch, but if he continues to play like he has during camp and preseason, Lenoir could find himself working with the 1's more frequently.

Look out for Lance Lenoir against the Bengals this week, as he makes it harder and harder for the Cowboys to cut him by the second.



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys en Español: ¿Es Tavon Austin Más Importante de lo que Creemos?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Tavon Austin, Cowboys Best Playmaker Not Named Ezekiel Elliott?

Cada vez más cerca de la verdadera acción en la NFL, tuvimos una oportunidad de ver a los Dallas Cowboys en el campo contra los San Francisco 49ers hace una semana. Francamente, a pesar de perder la ventaja en los últimos segundos del partido, la actuación del equipo dio una muy buena señal a los aficionados de la Estrella Solitaria.

Todavía quedan tres partidos por jugar, empezando por el enfrentamiento contra los Cincinnati Bengals este sábado. Hay muchas cosas que ver de parte de los Dallas Cowboys y quizá algunas de ellas las veamos este mismo fin de semana.

Una de las cosas más interesantes esta semana fue la conversación de los wide receivers (receptores abiertos). Lance Lenoir se ha mostrado como un candidato real al roster de 53 jugadores, pero esa es sólo una pequeña fracción de la conversación de receptores.

Hay muchos receptores de que hablar, y el día de hoy, eso haremos en Cowboys en Español.

¿Cole Beasley es realmente el receptor #1?

A lo largo de todo el offseason, se ha manejado la narrativa de que "los Cowboys no tienen un buen WR." A pesar de que Dez Bryant es un nombre difícil de olvidar, esta aseveración sobre los receptores en Dallas me parece errónea.

Si bien es cierto que Bryant es uno de los mejores WRs en la historia de los Cowboys, también es cierto que Jason Garrett y compañía tienen un mejor grupo de lo que la afición considera. Si somos sinceros, un trío titular de Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley y Michael Gallup no suena mal.

La pregunta será: ¿quién es el #1? Comentarios de Dak Prescott han hecho referencia a Cole Beasley como el dueño de dicho rol. ¿Realmente puede fungir como el receptor líder del equipo siendo un jugador de 1.73 metros?

Se ha hablado mucho de Beasley jugando fuera de los números e intentando vencer a los defensivos por fuera. Es intrigante, pero sin duda un poco difícil de creer.

Tavon Austin: ¿Es un arma más importante de lo que creemos?

Los Cowboys dejaron ir a Ryan Switzer y obtuvieron a su aparente remplazo con el ex-WR de los Rams por una selección de sexta ronda. Tavon Austin ha tenido un viaje extraño con el equipo. Fue listado en el roster como un corredor pero utilizado como un receptor.

Lleva poco tiempo en Dallas pero ha sorprendido en training camp y ha sido utilizado como más de lo que esperábamos. Desde que llegó al equipo, empezamos a compararlo con Lucky Whitehead y Ryan Switzer. Ambos talentosos, pero destinados a ser un jugador "gadget" que fueron utilizados casi exclusivamente en jugadas "en movimiento" o los famosos "jet sweeps."

Pero Austin puede ser más que eso y lo ha demostrado en training camp. No parece que Tavon vaya a tener el mismo destino que Switzer, sino que tendrá un rol mucho más involucrado en la ofensiva constantemente. Bien puede ser un factor sorpresa para la ofensiva en Dallas.

¿Puede Terrance Williams perder su trabajo?

A pesar de que el coraje puede llevar a los aficionados a criticar a Terrance Williams un poco más de lo que merece, la verdad es que Williams está en riesgo de ser cortado por los Cowboys antes de que inicie la temporada en septiembre.

Es uno de los WRs con más experiencia, sí. Pero durante su estadía en Dallas, cada vez que Dez Bryant ha caído lesionado, Williams ha tenido la oportunidad de surgir como un receptor #1 capaz y preparado. Y nunca lo ha logrado.

Con un roster lleno de talentos jóvenes como el de Lance Lenoir y Noah Brown, es probable que la administración y los coaches opten por el potencial joven en vez de Williams, quien ha tenido problemas para demostrar que puede ser un jugador constante.

✭✭✭

Los Dallas Cowboys tienen que conseguir que su ofensiva sobreviva las pérdidas de Jason Witten y Dez Bryant y tendrán que comenzar en la posición de WR. A pesar de que Williams esté en el equipo, Cole Beasley será el único en repetir titularidad del año pasado en Dallas esta temporada.

Dak Prescott tendrá un rol enorme cuando la ofensiva trate de emprender su marcha y definitivamente será responsable del éxito de esta. Es ahora o nunca para Dak.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: ¿Es Tavon Austin Más Importante de lo que Creemos?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Game Notes

#DALvsCIN: Bengals DL Gives Cowboys OL Formidable Test

Kevin Brady

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The Star News - Bengals At Cowboys: ITS Staff Picks And Notes
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

During their preseason opener, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line faced its first test of the season. The young, athletic, and downright talented defensive line of the 49ers gave the Cowboys starting five a chance to gauge their offseason progress thus far.

I'd say the starting group passed the test, while the backups and depth players looked a bit more shaky. The good thing about football, though, is that they get a shot to do it all again this Saturday.

This week's opponent, the Cincinatti Bengals, feature some serious talent upfront. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins is one of the best interior defenders in all of football, terrorizing centers and guards since he entered the league.Carl Lawson, Auburn

On the edge is one of my 2017 draft favorites, Carl Lawson. Lawson was a draft target of mine for the Cowboys, but it appears the entire league missed on the stud edge rusher during that draft. During his rookie season a year ago, Lawson racked up 8.5 sacks and looked like the best rookie rusher in all of football. It's rare that a rookie defensive end tallies the sack total that Lawson did in 2017, but then again, Lawson is a rare type of player.

Opposite of Carl Lawson is veteran pass rusher Carlos Dunlap. Together, Atkins and Dunlap have been one of the more dangerous pass rush duos for quite some time, but the additions of Lawson and Jordan Willis make them an incredibly impressive group.

During the Bengals' preseason opener against the Chicago Bears, their defensive line looked to be in midseason form.

Though Geno Atkins had the team's only sack, the trio of Atkins, Lawson, and Dunlap looked as prolific as ever.

This deep and talented defensive line is a more-than worthy test for the Cowboys this Saturday. Rookie Connor Williams will likely have to block Geno Atkins at some point, and though he looked promising against the 49ers, this week presents a whole different challenge.

Many now expect veteran center Travis Frederick to miss Saturday's game as well, due to his shoulder troubles during training camp. If Frederick were to miss the start, Joe Looney would be thrown into the first against this first team defensive front of the Bengals.

A rookie at left guard and Looney at center might not be the best ingredients against Geno Atkins and company, but it'll be what they have to roll with.

Still, Saturday will give us another chance to see what the 2018 Dallas Cowboys offensive line is all about.



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