If you’ve been watching the Dallas Cowboys for the past decade odds are that one of your favorite players over that time has been linebacker Sean Lee.
The General has put together quite the career with America’s Team since being drafted in the second round way back in 2010, and a year ago it seemed like his time with the Cowboys could be reaching its end. Lee’s kryptonite while starring for the Cowboys defense was always his inability to stay healthy. When Leighton Vander Esch stormed onto the scene a year ago, frankly, it made Lee dispensable.
Many people forecast that the Cowboys could move on from Lee in the offseason. Surprisingly, the two sides agree to a pay cut that kept Lee in Dallas with a reduced role (he’s been playing SAM most of this season). This was a big change for Lee to make, but given that he was closer to the end of his career, it made sense that he would want to be part of what he’s helped build with the Cowboys as opposed to starting over for some other team.
Stephen Jones appeared on 105.3 The Fan on Friday afternoon as he does every Friday through the season and he provided some clarity on how this all went down. It was a natural assumption that the Cowboys informed Lee that he’d have to take a pay cut, wasn’t it? With Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith (who would go on to get an extension several months after Lee’s pay cut) serving as the team’s main linebackers, they didn’t need him as much as they had in the past.
This was not the case according to Stephen Jones. Apparently it was Sean Lee that began those conversations as he understood the situation going on with the team.
“Well Sean came to us and he wanted to play and we didn’t even ask [for him to take a pay cut]. He just said look, ‘I want to adjust. I’ve missed a lot. I know you’ve got these two young guys that are going to need to be on the field. I think I can help.’ And that’s exactly what he’s done. You just can’t have enough good linebackers in this game. There’s going to be plenty of reps to go around. Joe Thomas figures right in that mix as well, he’s been playing really, really good football for us. You’re just fortunate to have four really starting-caliber linebackers like that and it’s a great asset for our defense.”
If this is indeed what happened it would be quite the rarity in the world of sports. Nobody should ever fault any player for making as much money as he possibly can, it’s not too often that we see them willingly give it up, especially as their own idea.
Of course, and forgive me for being a wet blanket of sorts, we all need to consider potential ulterior motives here. The Cowboys happen to be in the middle of negotiating long-term contracts with Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, it certainly helps to have some good chatter out in the ether about how awesome it looks for a player to be selfless for the good of the team.
Regardless, Sean Lee is a Cowboys great that needs a Super Bowl win as a cherry on top of what could potentially be a Ring of Honor career. His current team is certainly in the running, there are eight more games left in the regular season.