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    Should the Cowboys Restructure LB Sean Lee’s Contract?

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

    Some restructuring, such as what we'll likely see with , is a no-brainer. The All-Pro 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 ; 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.

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    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 . 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.

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    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 opening on March 14th.

    There are other moves to make, such as we discussed with Travis Frederick. Dallas could also restructure and , 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.

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    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 a success.

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    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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    7 COMMENTS

    7 Comments
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    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.