Dallas Cowboys: Would you rather keep Sean Lee or Cole Beasley?

Sean Lee #50 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Sean Lee #50 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys will soon make some tough decisions on which players they’ll keep and which they’ll send on their way, so today we play ‘would you rather’ with Cole and Sean

Deciding what to do with the Dallas Cowboys’ money is a favorite pastime of many of us in Cowboys Nation. And with so many questions surrounding so many of Dallas’ players, there’s no shortage of material. Today, let’s key in on a two players fighting over the same money and play GM for a day.

Sean Lee and Cole Beasley are two players in entirely different situations. One is under contract (Lee) while the other is not (Beasley). One is a starter (Beasley) while the other is not (Lee). One is looking for a pay bump (Beasley) while the other is expecting a pay cut (Lee).

Because of all these differences, we can’t really call this an apples-to-apples comparison. Not only are their positions different, but so is their pay, and their overall impact with the club. First, let’s look at where they are in their careers:

Sean Lee

Sean Lee is a valuable member of the Dallas Cowboys. While I say that in present tense, I’m doing so with his off-the-field influence in mind. On the field, Lee regressed significantly last season. By late in the season it was clear, even reserve linebacker Joe Thomas looked better than Lee back there.

even if Cole’s days are numbered (which I believe they are), it makes little sense to let a productive player like him walk while holding onto an unproductive player like Lee any longer.

With Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch locked into the starting MIKE and WILL roles, respectively, and Lee ill-fitted to man the SAM position, he’s probably no better than the No. 5 linebacker heading into the 2019 season (behind the starting three and behind Joe Thomas who played excellent last season). Typically you want your No. 5 LB to be a developmental prospect who’s playing for cheap and contributing on special teams. Even with a pay cut, Sean Lee isn’t any of those things.

Cole Beasley

Beasley isn’t exactly a picture of youth himself,  but he is 3-years younger, considerably spryer, and still an established starter in this league. Not only did Beasley lead the Dallas Cowboys receivers in receptions, but he also led the entire team in EPA (expected points added) per play last season, speaking to his tremendous value to this offense.

Character isn’t a concern for Cole but his growing discontent is pretty obvious. Beasley wants a bigger role on this offense and even though he led receivers in targets, he was noticeably open a lot more.

Current Salary Situation

Say what you want about the rigidness of the salary cap (or lack thereof), but the Dallas Cowboys can’t afford to pay everyone and tough decisions like this need to be made. We must look at the money involved. Sean Lee is on the books for $10 million next season. If Dallas cuts him they save $7 million and accrue $3 million in dead money.

Cole Beasley is a free agent looking for a raise. On his last deal he made roughly $3.4 million annually. Many are expecting he’ll command nearly double that amount on his next deal, so for symmetry sake, we’ll say $7 million like Lee.

Lee may be willing to take a pay cut, but the NFL players association won’t let him give up any guaranteed money, meaning an extension with added guarantees may be needed for Lee to save Dallas money in 2019 (or something like $5 million for just one year). So it’s not quite as easy as just saying, Lee will play for the veterans minimum.


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Sean Lee isn’t the malcontent Beasley is and he seems perfectly fine playing a reserve role. As I alluded to earlier, where Sean is still an asset is in the locker room and on the sideline mentoring. Part of this difference in attitude probably has more to do with where they stand in their respective careers than overall character – For instance: Beasley could probably pull in 100+ receptions if he were on a team like the Patriots or Packers. I’m not sure there’s a team in the world where Lee could collect 100 tackles anymore.

It appears character and legacy are winning above all else. I mean, Lee clearly has more supporters than Cole and that has a lot to do with how they’ve handled themselves this offseason.

Because of that, it’s understandable Cole has fallen out of favor in Cowboys Nation. But it’s important to understand how much of a better player Cole is than Sean right now because at this point in their careers, it’s not even close.

All things equal, I’d much rather pay Cole Beasley than Sean Lee. But they aren’t because Cole will cost at least a couple million more than Sean will (after the expected pay cut). But even if Cole’s days are numbered (which I believe they are), it makes little sense to let a productive player like him walk while holding onto an unproductive player like Lee any longer.

If Sean Lee’s real value is as a coach (and based on his film last season, it is), the Dallas Cowboys should make him a coach. There’s no cap on coaching contracts and I’d much rather start grooming him to replace Kris Richard (who will probably only be here one more season), than commit to him further as a player.

Next. What Rod Marinelli's presence means for free agency and the draft. dark

Who would I rather keep between the two? Cole Beasley by a landslide. But I’m OK moving on from both because both look like they’re replaceable this offseason and at a significantly reduced cost. What say you? Which one would you keep? Or are you like me and willing to let them both go?

  • Published on 02/24/2019 at 13:01 PM
  • Last updated at 02/24/2019 at 10:12 AM