Sean Lee

Contract Details: Bridgewater, Panthers, Vaitai, Lions, Byrd, Patriots, Brees, Saints

The latest notes on all of the contracts being handed out around the league:

  • QB Teddy Bridgewater, Panthers: signed. Bridgewater got a three-year deal worth $63MM and a whopping $40MM of that is guaranteed in the first two years, according to David Newton of ESPN.com. He got a $15MM signing bonus to take over for the start of the Matt Rhule era. Newton’s post has the full breakdown on how it’ll be paid out with various workout and roster bonuses.
  • OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Lions: signed. Vaitai’s five-year, $50MM contract includes $20MM guaranteed which will come in the first two years of the deal, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM NFL Radio tweets. Detroit can get out of the pact after that.
  • WR Damiere ByrdPatriots: signed. Byrd’s one-year deal can be worth up to $2.5MM, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network notes in a tweet.
  • QB Drew Brees, Saints: re-signed. Brees’ two-year, $50MM new deal with New Orleans includes a signing bonus of $23MM and a small base salary of only $2MM in year one, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. That structure as well as two voidable years added on for 2022-2023 help keep his 2020 cap hit very low so the Saints can spend more as they gear up for one more Super Bowl with Brees under center.
  • LB Sean Lee, Cowboys: re-signed. Lee is back for one more ride on a one-year, $4.5MM deal with $2MM guaranteed. He actually could earn up to $6.5MM if he hits some playing time incentives, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com, although he writes they’re “not-likely-to-be-earned.”
  • S Darian Thompson, Cowboys: re-signed. Thompson is getting a two-year deal worth $2.5MM, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. He’s getting a $200K signing bonus and can earn an extra $250K with playing time escalators.
  • WR Cody Core, Giants: re-signed. New York locked up the special teams ace who barely plays on offense, and he got paid handsomely. Core will be getting $4MM over a two-year deal, Wilson tweets. Only $1MM of it is guaranteed however.
  • S Jordan PoyerBills: extension. The full details are in on Poyer’s new pact. Poyer had two new years added on and will now make $22.7MM over the next three years with $13MM of that being guaranteed, Wilson tweets. He also got a $3MM signing bonus. In a separate tweet, Wilson notes that Poyer has an annual $500K interception incentive he can earn.

Cowboys To Bring Back Sean Lee

Despite the Cowboys bringing in a new coaching regime for the first time in 10 years, they will bring back one of the team’s leaders. Sean Lee and the Cowboys have agreed on a deal that will keep the linebacker in Dallas for an 11th season, according to Lee’s agent (Twitter link).

Lee will earn $4.5MM on a one-year deal, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). The longtime Cowboy cog will receive $2MM in full guarantees. This will be Lee’s age-34 season.

In February, Lee vowed not to retire. But the Cowboys at that point had not yet decided to bring him back. They have now, and Lee will return to his post as the veteran in Dallas’ linebacking corps.

While Lee himself has been injury-prone during his Cowboys tenure, he played a key role last season after Leighton Vander Esch‘s season-ending setback. Lee started 13 games and worked in a three-down role with Jaylon Smith. He made 86 tackles in Dallas’ disappointing 2019 season. Vander Esch is expected to be ready by training camp, but Lee will be back in uniform as a high-profile insurance policy.

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Cowboys’ Sean Lee To Play In 2020

Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee will play in 2020, agent Mike McCartney tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The only question that remains is where the 33-year-old (34 in July) will play. 

Lee is scheduled for free agency in March and the Cowboys have yet to decide whether they want to bring the veteran back for another season. First, they’ll have to address other priorities, including a potential extension for star quarterback Dak Prescott. McCartney says that Lee intends on exploring his options on the open market, though we wouldn’t be surprised to see the two sides reach a deal in the coming weeks.

Lee has spent his entire pro career in Dallas. A second-round pick in 2010, Lee cracked the starting lineup in 2011 and notched 104 total tackles. In 2013, he came away with four interceptions and ran them the other way for a league-high 174 yards. Still, injuries have hampered him throughout the years. Out of 160 possible regular season games, Lee has played in just 109 contests. That includes a 2014 season that was completely wiped out by a torn ACL and the trying 2017 and 2018 seasons which saw just 18 combined appearances.

Late last year, Lee left the Cowboys with a solid impression – he tallied double-digit tackles in two of his final five games, including a 17-stop showing in their Week 16 game against the Eagles. Still, after the Cowboys dropped four of their final six, they’re taking a hard look at every position on the roster.

In 2019, Lee finished out with 86 stops, one interception, one sack, and four passes defensed. It also marked the first ever complete 16-game slate of his career.

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Latest On Dak Prescott, Cowboys FAs

We heard earlier this week that negotiations between the Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott could ultimately lead to a franchise tag. However, Stephen Jones clarified that the organization is still focused on completing a long-term deal before Prescott hits unrestricted free agency in March.

“We want to get this done,” Jones told Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Dallas Star-Telegram. “Things are fixing to heat up. We want to put every foot forward and try to grind this out and get a deal done.

“I know he wants to get his contract in the rear view mirror and we want it too. We want him to be treated well, financially and respectfully. We are going to have a real urgency to get this done.”

There’s been optimism surrounding an extension for months, but the report from earlier this week cautioned that a deal wasn’t imminent. We heard back in January that the two sides were close to an agreement, with the Cowboys reportedly willing to give Prescott a contract worth $33MM per season. Hill Jr. notes that the quarterback is seeking a deal that would jump Russell Wilson‘s league-leading $35MM AAV.

“I don’t want to get into the details, but we have offered him significant money,” Jones said. “The money we have offered Dak no matter how you look at it would put him as a top five quarterback in the NFL. That is the way we feel about him. He is one of the best.”

Jones added that the team’s priority is signing their franchise quarterback, and they haven’t discussed contracts with any of their other free agents, including wideout Amari Cooper and pass-rusher Robert Quinn. Hill Jr. tweets that the organization also hasn’t decided whether they’ll bring back tight end Jason Witten or linebacker Sean Lee. We learned this morning that Lee wasn’t going to retire.

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Cowboys LB Sean Lee Won’t Retire

Linebacker Sean Lee just completed his 10th NFL season, but the veteran has no plans to hang up his cleats. Lee told SI.com’s Mike Fisher that he’s uncertain if he’ll land back in Dallas, but he made it clear that he won’t be retiring.

“I have not explored that yet,” Lee said. “I’m focusing on playing as of now.”

When asked about his future with the Cowboys and new head coach Mike McCarthy, the 33-year-old couldn’t commit.

“I’m still deciding,” Lee said. “I’m waiting to kind of explore what some of my options are…I love it in Dallas and I love the Cowboys. I hope it works out, for sure.”

Despite the 2019 campaign being his 10th season in the league (and his ninth healthy season), the veteran managed to appear in a career-high 16 games (to go along with 13 starts). Lee finished the campaign having compiled 86 tackles (the fifth time he’s had at least 80 tackles), one sack, four passes defended, and one interception.

The 2010 second-round pick has spent his entire career in Dallas, and he’s set to hit free agency for the first time since the 2013 offseason. Lee has battled a number of injuries throughout his career, and he’s flirted with retirement in the past. Based on his comments, it sounds like the linebacker is committed to returning for at least one more season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dez Bryant Wants To Return To Cowboys

Could Dez Bryant reunite with the Cowboys? Cowboys VP Stephen Jones says the wide receiver has reached out to him and he’s not ruling out the possibility of signing the veteran.

He has texted me that he would like to come back,” Jones said (via Clarence Hill of the Star Telegram). “We have nothing but great respect for Dez and what he accomplished here. Certainly, as we look forward into the future we look at all opportunities and all potential players that could maybe help us out.”

There haven’t been advanced discussions regarding Bryant just yet, however. Jones explained that he has only started discussing personnel with head coach Mike McCarthy. The two haven’t made determinations on their own free agents either, so Jones says nothing has been decided regarding tight end Jason Witten or linebacker Sean Lee.

Bryant spent eight years with the Cowboys, racking up 531 catches, nearly 7,500 yards, and a franchise-high 73 receiving touchdowns. His run included three straight seasons of at least 88 grabs, 1,200 yards, and 12 touchdowns. During that window from 2012-2014, Bryant was one of the league’s best receivers, and the Cowboys gave him a lucrative contract to reflect his production.

Of course, things didn’t end too well for Bryant and the Cowboys. In his last three seasons with Dallas, Bryant failed to top 900 yards. Then, the Cowboys dropped him in April of 2018, which put him on the curb after most of the NFL’s available free agent dollars had been allocated. Midway through the ’18 season, Bryant hooked on with the Saints. He never suited up for them, however, thanks to an Achilles tear in practice. Last year, Bryant was away from the NFL and training for an eventual return.

Bryant, a three-time Pro Bowler, will turn 32 in November.

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Cowboys LB Sean Lee Undecided On Playing Next Year

As Week 17 approaches, it looks like the Cowboys are going to miss the playoffs, barring a Giants upset of the Eagles. If they’re eliminated, longtime head coach Jason Garrett is expected to get the boot shortly after. That might not be the only major change Dallas sees this offseason, as there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding some key players. 

One of those is veteran linebacker Sean Lee, who was rumored to be considering retirement last year. He ultimately decided to come back, and will play in 16 games in 2019 for the first time in his career. The Penn State product is undecided about whether he wants to play in 2020, and elaborated on his process in some recent comments to the media. “If I do want to play again, you want to be a part of the entire offseason, which really kind of starts mid-March for me,” Lee said, via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. “And so that’s probably when I would make a decision.”

Lee’s contract is set to expire at the end of the year, and it sounds like he wants to inform the team of his decision before free agency starts, so don’t expect a prolonged process. “I’m happy that I was able to be consistently on the field and in a lot of situations, being able to help and being effective. That was a plus for me, and that will be part of the evaluation, obviously,” he said.

That last statement would seem to indicate he feels like he’s got something left in the tank. Lee has been plagued by injuries in recent years though, only playing in seven games last year and 11 the season before. He started the year off as a part-time player but has been counted on for a much larger role recently with younger linebacker Leighton Vander Esch on the shelf.

Lee is a franchise icon, and it’ll be interesting to see what path he takes. The Cowboys will almost certainly be entering a new era next season, and Lee could decide to return for one more run at a Super Bowl or to hang them up as the team starts over. Lee has functioned as somewhat of a coach when banged up the past couple years, and it’s entirely possible he’ll transition to coaching when he does decide to retire.

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Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch Out

Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch will not play this week against the Patriots and could miss substantially more time with a neck injury, according to Clarence Hill of the For Worth Star-Telegram. Vander Esch has faced medical questions surrounding his neck since his days in college. Losing Vander Esch would be a big hit to the Dallas defense.

While the injury is listed in a week to week manner, Hill notes in his story that Vander Esch is not scheduled for an MRI for another three weeks. Given the particular dangers with severe neck injuries and Vander Esch’s well-documented history of injury woes, Dallas should be especially cautious with the linebacker.

In his second NFL season, Vander Esch has lived up to his billing when healthy. After being selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Vander Esch earned a Pro Bowl selection as a rookie and has already accrued 72 tackles in just 9 games this season.

Without the Boise State alum, Dallas will likely turn to veteran linebacker Sean Lee to take over the team’s weak-side (WILL) linebacker position. Lee is far removed from his days as one of the best linebackers in football, but may be the most qualified backup in the NFL to help fill the gap.

NFC East Notes: Golden Tate, Redskins, Cowboys

On Saturday, Giants wide receiver Golden Tate was suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Though the veteran is appealing the suspension, don’t expect him to win that appeal, NJ.com’s Ryan Dunleavy writes.

After the suspension was doled out, Tate took to Twitter to say the test stemmed from a fertility treatment and he and the Giants are confident in the facts coming out. Citing former NFL doctor David J. Chao, Dunleavy expects the suspension to remain.

“Appreciate the story but if this is the basis for appeal, suspension will be upheld under current CBA. Like admitting you went over the speed limit because your speedometer broken. Still means a ticket,” Chao said [Twitter link].

Dunleavy went on to compare the case to that of defensive end Robert Mathis, who was suspended in 2014 for using the fertility drug, Clomid. He also cited the NFL does not typically reduce suspension lengths upon appeal.

With the suspension to Tate adds insult to several injuries for the Giants, who lost Sterling Shepard and Corey Coleman to injuries earlier in the week.

Here’s more from around the NFC East:

  • Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence held off on shoulder surgery until after he inked his new deal this offseason. The star pass-rusher is targeting the season opener vs. the Giants for when he will get back on the field,” Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams writes. “I’m not saying I’m going to overload my workload for the season opener or what they want to do with me or have me off the PUP list by the season opener, but hopefully be ready by the season opener.”
  • Staying in Dallas, linebacker Sean Lee is playing teams in training camp, the first time playing with the unit since his second season in the league, Williams writes“I am just trying to help anyway I can,” Lee said Sunday. “I like being on the field. I want to try to make an impact. You can make a lot of plays on special teams, hopefully plays that can change a game. Having an impact anyway I can, that’s my goal.” With the emergence of Leighton Vander Esch in 2018, Lee is also moving to strongside linebacker in 2019.
  • Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said receiver Trey Quinn has the slot-receiver role locked up, ESPN’s John Keim tweets. This was long expected as Quinn has received rave reviews and the lack of depth at the spot on the roster.

Sean Lee To Start In 2019

Thanks in large part to his injury troubles, Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee has been surpassed on the team’s depth chart by Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. There was speculation earlier this year that Lee could retire, but he did not want to call it quits just yet, so he indicated back in February that he would return in 2019 (albeit with a significant pay cut).

The thought was that Lee would serve as a backup to Vander Esch and Smith this season, but as Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes, Lee’s role will be larger than initially anticipated. Although Lee will indeed spell Vander Esch at weakside linebacker and Smith at middle linebacker from time to time, Hill says that Lee will see his name in the starting lineup as Dallas’ strongside ‘backer. Lee will replace Damien Wilson, who signed with the Chiefs in March.

But while it’s a starting job, Lee is still unlikely to see a ton of playing time. Strongside linebackers typically play on running downs, and Wilson took part in only 27.93% of the Cowboys’ defensive snaps last year. If Lee also sees some action at the weakside and middle linebacker spots, he may see a higher percentage of snaps than that, but nowhere near the burn that Smith and Vander Esch get.

And that makes sense, as Lee is still effective when he’s on the field, and his instincts are still first-rate, but if Dallas wants to take advantage of those tools, it will have to keep him fresh and healthy. As he enters his age-33 season, the 2016 First Team All-Pro still figures to be an important piece of the Cowboys’ defense, just not as important as he once was.

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