Add Sean Lee to the list of free agent vets the Cowboys will have to make a decision about this offseason. Lee has decided to play in 2020.
Word surfaced Monday morning that Sean Lee has made a decision on his future, as he told ESPN.com he intended to come back for another year. His agent, Mike McCartney, also confirmed to NFL Network that Lee was returning, extending his NFL career into an 11th season.
The question of where he will play is another matter.
At the age of 33, Lee is one of the longest-tenured Cowboys on the team’s roster. He was drafted No. 55 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft and has been a fixture for the Dallas defense for the past decade. Only injuries – which, regrettably, have been substantial – have kept him out of the lineup.
Ironically, it was Lee’s clean bill of health that helped him enjoy a bit of a resurgence last year. He started the 2019 season as the Cowboys’ strong side linebacker and a backup to Leighton Vander Esch, but he stepped into a starting role when Vander Esch went down with a neck injury. Lee started 13 games, including the last nine in a row, and tallied 109 tackles with a sack and an interception.
Lee isn’t the only long-time vet that the Cowboys will have to decide about. Jason Witten also wants to play in 2020.
Not everybody is a fan of bringing Witten back. Bleacher Reports says letting Witten go would be part of the prefect offseason for Dallas.
Say goodbye to Jason Witten
Witten’s future appears to be up in the air, but the Cowboys might be best-served moving on. Backup Blake Jarwin was a bigger playmaker despite seeing far less action in 2019, so Dallas should probably pocket whatever he’d make and focus on Jarwin. He had eight 20-yard catches last year, which was more than Witten, but also more than JuJu Smith-Schuster, Alshon Jeffery and T.Y. Hilton.
Draft a safety early
The Cowboys were reportedly interested in Earl Thomas but unwilling to pay for him. They won’t likely be positioned to land a big-name safety in free agency this time either, but there’s no way they’re satisfied with Jeff Heath, Darian Thompson and Xavier Woods at that position. It’s time for Jerry Jones to draft a safety before Round 6 for the first time since 2013.
What do a couple of Cowboys experts think about the prospect of Witten returning?
Is Jason Witten a serious consideration for the Cowboys in the 2020 season?– CHRIS DON / WAXAHACHIE, TX
David [Helman]: I definitely think it’s possible. Witten and Mike McCarthy have had conversations, and there seems to be an open line of dialogue between he and the organization. But I’m not ready to bet on it. At some point, the Cowboys need to get younger and more athletic at that position.
Nick [Eatman]: I can’t imagine this being a serious consideration for the Cowboys. If it was, ownership would probably not have said “no comment” when asked about his future. If I know Witten at all, he wants to still play, but he certainly wants to be wanted. So he might be looking at his options, but he’s not going to let this get awkward. He’ll retire again before it looks like he’s out there searching for a team. I just don’t think the Cowboys are looking to bring him back for another year.
Besides making a decision on Sean Lee, what else is going on at linebacker for the Cowboys?
What They Have: Two Cornerstones
Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch represent the present and future of the Cowboys’ linebacking core. A concerning neck injury sidelined Vander Esch the final five games of last season, but with him entering his third year and Smith under contract through 2025, the team hopes the two young players will produce multiple Pro-Bowl caliber seasons whether the Cowboys play a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme.
Immediate Need: Depth
Depth was a concern at linebacker for Dallas last season with a rash of injuries popping up at various points in the season. Five of their linebackers from 2019 are free agents. The Cowboys will likely look to the draft and free agency for linebackers that can play meaningful snaps if called upon.
The NFL’s top 10 WRs entering 2020: Where does the Cowboys’ Amari Cooper rank among the best? - John Owning, DMN
Where Amari Cooper ranks among NFL wide receivers.
7. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
2019 stats: 79 catches for 1,189 yards (15.1 yards per reception) and eight TDs on 119 targets; 2.29 yards per route run (eighth in NFL).
Amari Cooper — aka the Sluggo Savant, aka the Blaze-Out Bandit — is an outstanding receiver who has made a huge impact since joining the Cowboys. It’s not a coincidence that Dak Prescott showed improvement from the moment Cooper was acquired.
Cooper is magnificent route runner who is especially effective on slants, blaze-outs and double moves. He does a great job of disguising his routes, keeping defensive backs guessing and preventing them from getting a jump on the pass. Cooper’s route-running ability enables him to be effective at every level of the defense.
He does his best work against man coverage, catching 20 of his 21 targets against pure man coverage for a 15.6 yard-per-target average while quarterbacks have an absurd 150.5 passer rating when targeting him against that coverage.
Listed at 6-1, 210 pounds, Cooper has the physicality to produce against contact and the speed to run by defenders. He isn’t often viewed as a preeminent deep threat, but he finished sixth among all receivers in 40-plus yard receptions (six) in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Cowboys would be unwise to let Cooper walk in free agency. Expecting Michael Gallup or a draft pick to develop into a receiver of Cooper’s caliber is foolish.
The Tom Brady to Dallas “rumor” is still getting attention. You can check out was some NFL observers have to say about the idea.
Conor Orr, Sports Illustrated
There seems to be some detritus floating around about the Dallas Cowboys as well—spread by Michael Irvin, of all people—though it’s a projected trade that has more in common with the flat earth theory than anything tethered to reality.
Let’s agree that if Mike McCarthy and Jerry Jones are dumb enough to trade an in-prime Dak Prescott to the New England Patriots for the chance to pay a 43-year-old the same amount of money, our world is headed for its rightful hellscape much faster than initially projected.
As part of the perfect offseason article above, the idea of drafting a safety in the early rounds is brought up. But could a current Cowboy get his chance in 2020?
[Donovan] Wilson didn’t get many opportunities in 2019 under the Jason Garrett regime. That should come as no surprise, however, as rookies generally had a difficult time breaking into games unless there were injuries or they were rookies selected with premium draft capital.
Heading into his second season and with a new coaching staff, Wilson may have a renewed opportunity with the Dallas Cowboys. Especially considering one of his coaches from Texas A&M is joining the Cowboys defensive staff; Maurice Linguist.
Linguist coached at Texas A&M in 2018 and 2019, overlapping with Wilson in 2018. Though Linguist coached the cornerback group for the Aggies, he had a relationship with Donovan Wilson during their time there.
A couple weeks ago, Linguist got an opportunity to meet with reporters for the first time and was asked about his relationship with Donovan Wilson. Though he didn’t coach Wilson directly, Linguist said, “I love that kid. He’s a good person.”
Where should Sean Lee play in 2020? We discuss on the latest episode of The Ocho.
Make sure that you never miss an episode from Blogging The Boys by subscribing to the Blogging The Boys podcast feed!
Also make sure to subscribe to the official YouTube Channel from Blogging The Boys. We’ve got big plans coming there throughout the offseason and you don’t want to miss a thing!