By Matthew Postins
That’s because he and the Dallas Cowboys committed up to $51 million to linebacker Sean Lee.
Lee’s long-rumored contract extension is now done. Here are the details, according to multiple sources:
The extension is actually worth just $42 million. The extra $9 million comes from escalators related to Lee’s health, which is the one real question mark about the fourth-year pro. Lee must play 80 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in a season to earn that extra money.
At least $26 million of the deal is guaranteed. Lee receives a $10 million signing bonus up front. The first two years of the deal, reportedly worth $16.15 million, will also be guaranteed. That figure could go up to $20.15 million after the 2016 season, depending on escalators and bonuses.
The deal ties Lee to the Dallas Cowboys through the 2019 season.
Details of base salary and bonus money per year are still emerging. But this deal will certainly have an impact on the Cowboys’ cap space next season, where the team is already well over the projected cap figure. Before Lee signed his deal the Cowboys were on the hook for $142 million in cap money for the 2014 season. Given Lee’s bonus money, and the fact that the first two years of his base salary are reportedly guaranteed, that number will go up.
The Dallas Cowboys believe they’re getting a bargain. Lee, to them, is an emerging talent who is on the cusp of becoming a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro. They’re not alone in that belief. Former Bears legend Dick Butkus gave Lee his seal of approval earlier this year. Many believed Lee was well on his way to earning his first Pro Bowl nod before an injury against Baltimore ended his season.
The only downside is the fact that Lee has not played all 16 games in a season. He missed a combined five games in his first two seasons before missing the majority of last season.
During preseason Lee has looked like a star as the middle linebacker in new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s Cover 2, 4-3 formation. The Dallas Cowboys believe they’ve seen enough to tie themselves to Lee until the end of this decade.
We’ll see if the Cowboys’ investment pays off.