Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee signed a six-year extension with the Cowboys on Wednesday after making 21 starts in his first three NFL seasons.
A toe injury ended his 2012 season after six games and Lee’s had assorted other injuries in both college and the pros that have led some to wonder about the wisdom of such a lengthy extension. The deal is structured with an eye on that injury history, however, as Albert Breer of the NFL Network reports that Lee will have to play 80 percent of the defensive snaps in a season to boost his salary from $7 million to $8.5 million.
“Obviously I’ve had injuries and I’ve said I need to find a way to stay on this field,” Lee said, via the team’s website. “And the contract is extremely fair. If I’m on the field the whole year, I’ll be able to get paid. But if I do have injuries, it protects 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.”
Based on the level of play we’ve seen from Lee since joining the Cowboys, it’s hard to argue with that. If he’s healthy, the $8.5 million salary will put him among the best-paid inside or middle linebackers in the league and that’s a group that Lee can rightly call home. If he doesn’t, the guaranteed money (a little more than $16 million) isn’t so onerous that the team couldn’t move in a different direction.