Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Sean Lee signed a six-year contract extension that could be worth up to $51 million, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport and Albert Breer report.
The base value of Lee's extension is $42 million, a $7 million average per year (APY) that is below inside/middle linebacker extensions signed last year by Daryl Washington of the Arizona Cardinals and James Laurinaitis of the St. Louis Rams. The $7 million per year average of Lee's extension is identical to what former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe received from the Miami Dolphins as an unrestricted free agent in March.
Staying healty has been an issue for Lee dating back to his college days at Penn State. Lee is also coming off a season where he missed the final 10 games after landing on injured reserve due to a toe injury. According to the NFL.com report, if Lee plays in 80 percent of the Cowboys' defensive snaps during the contract, he will trigger escalators in the contract that would increase the total value of the deal to $51 million, increasing the APY to $8.5 million, which would top the Laurinaitis deal.
Lee has reached 80 percent playing-time just once in his career, playing in 82.3 percent of the snaps as a 15-game starter during the 2011 season. With the Cowboys moving to a 4-3 defense, Lee is expected to be a three-down middle linebacker and he is critical to the unit's success in the first season with legendary defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin on the Dallas sidelines.