The Dallas Cowboys have locked up one of their young talented players for the foreseeable future. Middle linebacker Sean Lee signed a six-year contract extension through 2019 on Wednesday. Lee told Nick Eatman of dallascowboys.com how it feels to know he’ll be a Cowboy most of his career.
“I’m extremely excited. I was blessed to be able to be drafted by a great franchise like this. And to have an opportunity to be here a long time and hopefully compete for a Super bowl is fantastic. I’m blessed to be here. And I’m very grateful for the Jones’ and the opportunity that they have given me.”
According to Rotoworld.com, Lee’s contract is a seven-year deal worth $42.63 million. The deal contains $16.1 million guaranteed. The amounts per year are as follows: 2013: $630,000, 2014: $5.5 million, 2015: $2.5 million, 2016: $3 million, 2017-2019: $7 million, 2020: Free Agent.
The deal appears to be beneficial for both Lee and the Cowboys. Dallas gets a very protective and incentive-laced deal for the fourth year player whom is considered by many to be one of the best young middle linebackers in football. And he is now being paid like it. Lee’s new contract extension is comparable to San Fransisco’s All-Pro middle linebacker Patrick Willis, who in 2010 signed a seven-year, $53.51 million deal. And it’s also comparable to young linebacking talent Jerod Mayo of the New England Patriots who signed a seven-year, $49.85 million contract in 2011. But for Lee, it isn’t about the numbers anymore. It’s about focus.
“It’s great to have it done. Being able to focus on this year. Focus on winning. Focus on me becoming a better football player and staying on the field. Making sure I’m healthy so I can help this team win.”
One of the major risks that comes with signing Lee is his history of injuries. He fell into the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft due to suffering an ACL injury while at Penn State. Lee has yet to play an entire season for the Cowboys, missing ten games last season due to a toe injury. But he did play all but three games in his first two seasons. The contract extension he signed protects both him and the Cowboys.
“Obviously, I’ve had injuries. And I need to find a way to stay on this field. The contract’s extremely fair where if I’m on the field the whole year I’ll be able to get paid. But at the same point, if I do have injuries, it will protect the Cowboys. And I think that’s fantastic. Especially with the injuries I’ve dealt with in the past. Hopefully I’ll find a way to be on the field every single year. That’s my goal. So I think it’s extremely fair what’s in the contract.”
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and Albert Breer reported that Lee’s contract could be worth up to a total of $51 million if he reaches incentives over the next seven years. But he has to play at least 80% of the team’s snaps in order to reach those incentives.
“In the end, they are paying a certain amount. And I have to go out and perform. I take that extremely seriously. And I want to go out and fulfill this and help our team win football games.”
Lee, ever the professional, said to celebrate his extension he’ll be preparing for tomorrow’s practice. Sounds like a winner to me.