Cowboys can afford to ease Sean Lee back in lineup

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Sean Lee might be playing his final few games for the Cowboys.

The Cowboys will have a decision to make after the season, and it likely won’t be a hard one. Lee, who has missed eight games this season, 13 games over the past two seasons and 50 games in his nine-year career, has a $7 million base salary and a $10.1 million salary cap hit for 2019.

The Cowboys can save $7 million by cutting him before next season, and Lee would count only $3.075 million in dead money.

They drafted linebacker Leighton Vander Esch in the first round this spring, and Vander Esch has become a defensive rookie of the year candidate in Lee’s absence.

However many games Lee has remaining in his Cowboys’ career, he hopes to make them count.

Lee has battled a hamstring injury all season, playing three games, missing three games, playing two games and then missing five games before returning last week. The Cowboys, not wanting a repeat of what happened in his previous return this season, are taking a deliberate approach this time.

He played only seven snaps last week as the Cowboys hope to have him fully healthy and in football condition by the postseason.

“I missed enough time this year and missed a lot of time recently,” Lee said Friday, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “So we are trying to get healthy and get back to form and get ready down the stretch, hopefully, get a win and get in the playoffs. The goal is to be part of this group throughout the playoffs and being able to compete.”

With Vander Esch playing the way he is, the Cowboys have the luxury of not rushing Lee back into lineup. Lee has missed 18 games in his career with hamstring issues.