Linebacker Sean Lee has had his fair share of injury trouble while playing football. It’s a violent game and injuries are expected, but Lee seems to be a fragile player. I’m fearful this trend may label Lee as the new Bob Sanders.
The Dallas Cowboys took the field for their first day of OTAs today. Lee went down after having his left knee buckle while being blocked by rookie guard Zack Martin.
Dallas believes he has torn his ACL in his left knee which would likely mean he would be out for the season. Assuming that he is gone for the entire year, he will have missed 34 games since 2010.
He’s had a laundry list of injuries including a torn right ACL while at Penn State. Add in a toe injury which required surgery, a neck injury and hamstring trouble, and he looks more like the guy from the game “Operation” than an NFL player.
Sanders was a great safety during his seven-year professional career. However, in that span of time, he played in just 50 games. Like Lee, Sanders was a gritty, hard-hitting defender. Unfortunately for both of these guys, their bodies have betrayed them.
Cowboys’ ownership can’t blame anybody but themselves in this situation. They saw the writing on the wall with his injury history. I think they thought Lee was simply unlucky, often being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The Cowboys locked up Lee for the next six seasons with a new contract last summer. He received $51 million including a $10 million singing bonus. There was also a clause which would allow him to earn another $9 million if he played in 80 percent of the team’s snaps. With his history and this new injury, it seems like he won’t ever see that money.
Dallas does have options at linebacker, although none of them are as good as Lee at patrolling the MLB position. It can elect to stay in-house and look to Justin Durant, DeVonte Holloman, Ernie Sims or Anthony Hitchens. The Cowboys can also go with a veteran free agents like Jonathan Vilma, Pat Angerer or Michael Boley.
Hopefully, Lee can one day stay healthy and cement himself as one of the best defenders in the game consistently. Currently, that idea is more like a dream instead of a possibility.
If Lee continues to mirror the career path of Sanders, he won’t see another contract and will likely have his career cut short. Not because he can’t play, but he and his body can’t be trusted.
Lee is becoming more like a mysterious folk hero. He is always talked about, but rarely seen in person.