The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of free agents in 2020, leading to discussions and decisions throughout the entire roster. One conversation could be coming at linebacker, deciding which of two veteran backups is the best choice to re-sign; Sean Lee or Joe Thomas?
It’s an interesting debate. Lee is, of course, the bigger name with a far richer history in Dallas. But Thomas is younger and has history with our new coach.
Sean turns 34 this year and has his problematic record with staying healthy. A reduced role in 2019 helped him play in all 16 games, but he missed nine games the previous year and five the year before that.
The Cowboys certainly appreciated Lee’s presence last year when Leighton Vander Esch missed half the season with a neck injury. With the likelihood that the young star will be managing that issue the rest of his career, having a strong backup option in place will be a necessity.
Joe Thomas doesn’t have any of Lee’s past Pro Bowls or a First Team All-Pro award on his resume. But for two seasons he’s been a solid, versatile linebacker whose shown some play-making ability in limited snaps.
Perhaps most importantly this year, though, are the seasons Thomas played under Mike McCarthy in Green Bay prior to Joe coming to Dallas.
Thomas was an undrafted free agent for the Packers who eventually turned into a key reserve at linebacker. He started seven games in 2016 plus two more in the postseason.
Of course, a lot of this could comes down to money.
Lee’s cache around the NFL will help his asking price, but his age and injury history will work against it. Thomas doesn’t have the recognition working in his favor, but he’s also five years younger.
Now there’s always the possibility that Dallas just brings back bother players, which they certainly have the cap space and room on the roster to do.
But if it comes to one or the other, Cowboys fans shouldn’t assume that Sean Lee is the easy pick. There are reasons that this new staff might value Joe Thomas more, and especially if they can get him for significantly less money.
As weird as that may sound to some of you, don’t be shocked if Dallas choose Thomas over Lee in 2020.