October 20, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Sean Lee (50) during second half action against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Lee’s Contract Has Injury Clause

When Sean Lee signed his contract last offseason many were left wondering what exactly the Cowboys committing to. Did the Cowboys just re-sign a potential career Pro-Bowler who was both a leader on the defense and playmaker on the field? Or did the Cowboys re-sign an injury prone player who failed to stay healthy in college as well as the pros?

Sean Lee is the tale of two players. Few question his ability to lead the defense, diagnose plays, and impact a game with his natural playmaking ability. But there always seems to be a “but”. Sean Lee missed 13 games prior to his contract extension. That translates to playing roughly 73% of the time.

That’s simply not enough game time for a team leader and cornerstone of the future.

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys came to a solution: sign Sean Lee a contract contingent on his ability to stay healthy. Sean Lee has escalators built into his deal based on games played. If he can play in 80% of the snaps in either 2013 or 2014 he will make an extra $1.5M in base salary in 2015.

Sean Lee missed 5 complete games in 2013, clearly missing the 80% mark. This means Lee needs to have a solid 2014 campaign and play in at least 13 games in order to hit his escalator. That same 80% standard continues the length of the contract so Lee must find a way to be consistently healthy in order to get paid his escalators.

Throughout the length of Sean Lee’s deal, he stands to make almost $10M extra if he can just play 80% of the time.

Said Stephen Jones,

The big thing with Sean, and he knows it, is he’s got to stay healthy

Which is something Sean Lee hasn’t been able to do.

Lee is still guaranteed a substantial amount of money whether he’s injured or not. If he continues his trend of missing more than 30% of snaps, then he’s not even worth the low end of his deal. The terms of his contract do show that the Cowboys didn’t blindly enter into an extension with a notably risky player.

Results of Sean Lee’s injury today are still unknown but early indications imply the injury to his left knee is serious. The Cowboys cannot afford to lose any player, let alone their defensive leader, for an extended period of time.

More news as it becomes available.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Sean Lee Stephen Jones

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