There's been a changing of the guard in Dallas lately.
The first thing to change? The quarterback position, when Dak Prescott took over for an injured Tony Romo in 2016 and never looked back. Then just a few weeks ago Jason Garrett, the head coach of the Cowboys for nearly a full decade, was replaced by Mike McCarthy.
Now, the writing appears to be on the wall for veteran linebacker Sean Lee.
Lee has been a mainstay with America's Team for ten years himself, becoming a fan favorite and one man wrecking crew of sorts on the defensive side of the ball. For years the narrative was that as long as Sean Lee was healthy, the Cowboys defense would be ok.
And honestly, there was some truth to that.
Lee was the most important player on Dallas' defense for quite some time, playing at a Pro Bowl player when healthy. The issue is, though, that it has been increasingly difficult for him to be healthy. Now Lee is entering unrestricted free agency at 34 years old, with his replacements already drafted with a couple of years of starting experience under their belts.
Lee is no longer the player he once was, but he's clearly respected and loved in that locker room. When Sean had arguably his best performance in years against Los Angeles last season, recording both a sack and an interception, the pure joy from all of his teammates was obvious. After the game, cornerback Jourdan Lewis went as far as to call Lee their true leader on the defense, despite no longer holding the “captain” status.
That stuff matters. It really does. Bill Simmons once wrote that what we learned the “secret” about winning in the NBA was that it really wasn't about basketball at all. The secret is chemistry. This applies in football, the ultimate team game, as well. And Sean Lee is exact kind of player which can heighten your chemistry.
But the coaches which have loved Lee are now all gone, with a new staff in place and a new philosophy on the way. Lee is past his prime, and may want to take matters into his own hands and retire before the season begins.
At the end of the day – Sean Lee deserves to finish his career as a Dallas Cowboy. There's a role for him on the 2020 Cowboys if he wants it.