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Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee retires after 11 seasons

After 11 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Sean Lee has decided to retire.

A second-round pick in 2010 out of Penn State, Lee was a two-time Pro Bowl selection (2015, 2016) and the unquestioned leader of the defense for most of his career.

“It’s been a complete honor,” Lee told ESPN. “I’ve been blessed to play for the incredible Jones family, with such great coaches and teammates that I love like brothers. I loved every minute playing and tried to pour my heart and soul into winning and helping my teammates at all costs.

“To say the injuries were frustrating would be an understatement, but the support I received through them all was humbling and the lessons I learned battling adversity will last a lifetime. There are always regrets, but I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish and I leave this game grateful.”

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Injuries marked Lee’s time with the Cowboys, but when healthy he was one of the best linebackers in the NFL.

The 34-year-old led the Cowboys in tackles in 2011 and 2015-17, and he retains five of the top seven tackle games in team history, including a record 22 vs. the Giants in 2016.

He also had 14 career interceptions, returning two of them for touchdowns; 5 fumble recoveries; 2 forced fumbles; 59 tackles for loss; and 4 sacks.

He was credited with 995 tackles for his career, good for eighth in team history. He averaged 8.4 tackles per game, the most among the top 10 tacklers in team history. Darren Woodson, who is the franchise leader with 1,350, averaged 7.6 tackles per game.

Lee missed time with hamstring, wrist, toe, neck, knee and core-muscle injuries as well as concussions. He missed the 2014 campaign due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

He played in just nine matches last season after undergoing sports hernia surgery in September but was feeling better at the end of the year and contemplated a return for a 12th season.

His impact off the field was just as great as it was on the field.

“As an individual he’s one of the most selfless people that I’ve ever been around,” linebacker Leighton Vander Esch stated after the season.

“The dude just truly loves the game, and he is going to do what’s best for the game. He’s extremely intelligent, he understands it like nobody I’ve been around. He’s just a phenomenal individual — his character bleeds off and is contagious.

“He’s like an older brother to me, and I know he wants to see everyone around him succeed and that’s just what’s special about him. If other people are succeeding, [if] the team is succeeding? He’s just as happy as if he was out there doing it. I think it’s special to have a guy like him around. They don’t come around very often.”

Lee’s decision continues an offseason shift for the Cowboys in longevity and leadership as defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford, a nine-year veteran, also elected to retire and the team moved on from 16-year long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur.

With Lee and Crawford not returning, DeMarcus Lawrence, a second-round pick in 2014, is the longest-tenured defensive player on the Cowboys. Randy Gregory, a second-rounder the next year, is the second.

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Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford to retire, coach Mike McCarthy says

After nine seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford has opted to retire, coach Mike McCarthy revealed Thursday.

Crawford, 31, battled numerous injuries the past few seasons, including double hip surgery that limited him to just four games in 2019. That played a part in this decision, as he was set to be an unrestricted free agent but decided his body could not withstand the rigors of the NFL.

The Cowboys selected Crawford in the third round of the 2012 draft. After playing a reserve role as a rookie, he tore his Achilles in training camp in his second season.

He returned as a full-time starter in 2014 and had 37 tackles, 3 sacks, 4 tackles for loss and 29 pressures. In 2015, the Cowboys signed him to a five-year extension worth $45 million, and he posted 19 sacks from 2015-18, including a career-high 5.5 in 2018.

His capacity to play multiple spots along the defensive line ultimately hurt some of his production because the coaches would not settle on him playing defensive end or tackle.

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Crawford battled through shoulder injuries that would require surgery, but he became one of the defensive leaders, which was missed during his absence in 2019.

He started three of 16 games in 2020 and ended with 17 tackles, 2 sacks and 13 quarterback pressures.

If linebacker Sean Lee, who is a free agent, does not return for a 12th season, then DeMarcus Lawrence, a second-round pick in 2014, would be the Cowboys’ longest-tenured defensive player. Randy Gregory, a second-round pick in 2015, would be the second-longest.

Dallas has signed defensive end Tarell Basham as well as defensive tackles Carlos Watkins and Brent Urban this offseason.

“You can’t have enough 6-5, 260-, 265-pound athletes on your team,” McCarthy said.

With the firing of coordinator Mike Nolan and the hiring of Dan Quinn as his replacement, the Cowboys’ defense will have a new boss, but not necessarily a new look as McCarthy said they’ll run a similar scheme as last year.

The defense ranked 31st vs. the run, 23rd in yards allowed per match and 28th in points allowed last season. It was tied for seventh with 23 takeaways. “When you look at our team from 2020 to 2021, the largest change is clearly on defense,” McCarthy said.

“That’s something we felt was needed. … [But] this isn’t a start-over situation. We’re able to build on some of the things we were able to accomplish last year.”

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QB Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys reach four-year, $160 million deal

The Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott have agreed to a four-year, $160 million deal, including $126 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Monday.

The deal, which is technically for six years but voids to four so as to help Dallas against the salary cap, can be worth up to $164 million, a source said.

Prescott’s signing bonus is $66 million, the highest in NFL history, with a record $75 million due in year one, Schefter reported. The first three years of the deal average $42 million per year, according to a source.

The Cowboys revealed they had agreed to a contract with Prescott but did not disclose terms. The Cowboys will place the franchise tag on Prescott on Tuesday as a procedural matter, a source told Schefter.

The Cowboys announced they will hold a Wednesday news conference. Prescott’s salary-cap number for this campaign will be $22.2 million instead of the $37.7 million that would have come along with the franchise tag, a savings of $15.5 million against this season’s cap, Schefter reported.

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The process to reach a long-term deal with Prescott covered three offseasons, multiple mega-million offers and hours of negotiations. The Cowboys, all along, said they wanted Prescott to be their franchise quarterback for the present and future, and Prescott stated he wanted to stay with the Cowboys.

It just took a lot longer than normal.

Prescott, who will turn 28 in July, is coming off a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle suffered in the Week 5 win versus the New York Giants in October, but he was predicted to make a full recovery during the offseason.

The Cowboys have missed the playoffs in three of the past four seasons.

Prescott’s absence in 2020, however, showed how integral he is to their success. Before getting hurt, he threw for 1,856 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions in five games.

The Cowboys’ offense scuffled along for a few weeks without Prescott, scoring one touchdown in three games after scoring at least 31 points in four of their first five games.

In five seasons, Prescott has a team-record seven 400-yard passing games and 24 rushing touchdowns, the most by a Cowboys quarterback. He is second to Tony Romo in 300-yard passing games with 15. Prescott also has proved to be clutch with 15 game-winning drives.

Prescott, the Cowboys’ 2016 fourth-round pick, has posted a 42-27 record with 17,364 passing yards to go along with 106 touchdown passes and 40 interceptions.

With the contract secured, the expectations will be even greater on Prescott to deliver a Super Bowl to an organization that has not made it to the title game in 25 years.

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Dallas Cowboys, Dak Prescott still not close to long-term deal

The Cowboys and Dak Prescott still are not close on a new deal to keep the star quarterback in Dallas long-term, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Cowboys and Prescott were banned from negotiating a new deal during the season, but the sides were permitted to resume contract talks once Dallas’ disappointing season ended.

Sources told ESPN that the Cowboys still want to re-sign Prescott, who wants to stay in Dallas. But the sides still have plenty of work to do on a new deal, with a history of not being able to get it done.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones acknowledged last month that Prescott is in a good negotiating position, considering Dallas’ 6-10 record and the offense’s struggles after the two-time Pro Bowler’s season-ending leg injury.

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“I don’t know how you could have any more leverage,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan.

Prescott, who played this past year under the Cowboys’ franchise tag, suffered a dislocation and compound fracture of his right ankle in Week 5 versus the New York Giants.

He was on pace for his best statistical season, with 1,856 yards passing, nine touchdown passes and four interceptions, but the Cowboys were 2-3 in his five starts.

Once the sides did not reach an agreement on a contract on June 15, 2020, Prescott had to play this season on the $31.4 million franchise tag. The Cowboys offered Prescott a deal last year that sources said averaged $34.5 million a year, with a $50 million signing bonus and had $110 million in guarantees.

The biggest issue between the sides was the length of the deal. The Cowboys wanted five years; agent Todd France countered with four because impending television contracts are expected to significantly raise the salary cap in the future.

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Cowboys’ DeMarcus Lawrence debating whether to report to training camp

The Dallas Cowboys could be without their star pass rusher entering training camp.

DeMarcus Lawrence, a two-time Pro Bowl selection in 2017 and 2018, is debating whether or not he will skip training camp due to the upcoming birth of his daughter. His wife is due in October and the current coronavirus pandemic may make it unsafe for Lawrence and his family.

Cowboys training camp is set to start on July 28. “I’m taking it one day at a time, talking with my team and trying to figure out as many details as possible before I make a decision and have it set in stone,” Lawrence told ESPN.

“Shoot, I love to ride with my brothers and play the game of football. When I have to take that away from myself, it’s hard and I don’t want to make a decision like that. But I also have to make sure I’m taking care of my family. Family is No. 1. After the game of football is done, that’s the only thing I have to depend on, so I’ve got to take care of them.”

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He doesn’t want to miss his daughter’s birth after being absent for his son’s birth back in 2014.

“But my No. 1 concern is will I be able to see my family and be there for my daughter’s birth?” Lawrence said. “If I can’t be, we’re really going to have to take some major difficult considerations about this season, because I’m not missing the birth of another child.”

The Cowboys haven’t exactly had the best of offseason. Dallas was recently unable to complete a long-term contract with franchise quarterback Dak Prescott.

The failure to get a deal done before the deadline last Wednesday means the 27-year-old will play on a franchise tag — a one-year deal — worth $31.4 million. Lawrence is entering the second year of a five-year, $105 million deal — with $65 million guaranteed — that he inked prior to the begining of the 2019 season.

If he sits out training camp, he would be forced to repay part of his bonus.

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Dak Prescott plans to sign franchise tag by Monday

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott plans to sign his $31.4 million exclusive franchise tender by Monday, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The two sides still have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal. The Cowboys had placed the franchise tag on Prescott on March 18.

By signing his franchise tender, Prescott will be contractually forced to report to training camp on time, whether or not he and the Cowboys can figure out a long-term deal.

Prescott’s decision to sign the franchise tender is not an indication that a long-term agreement is close, league sources told ESPN’s Ed Werder.  The fact that Prescott will be one of the highest-paid players in the NFL — and the potential his franchise tag increases by a obligatory 20% next season to $37.7 million with a flat or lower cap in 2021 — is incentive for Dallas to secure a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline.

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This offseason, the Cowboys made a long-term offer to Prescott that would put him among the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL, ESPN’s Todd Archer previously reported.  Seattle’s Russell Wilson is the highest paid at $35 million per campaign, followed by Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger at $34 million.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones have repeatedly expressed their belief that Prescott is the team’s quarterback of the future and capable of leading the franchise back to a Super Bowl.

Prescott, who turns 27 on July 29, has said on multiple instances that he never wanted to leave the Cowboys.

Prescott completed 388 of 596 passes for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdown passes last season. Despite career highs in yardage and touchdowns, Prescott had his worst record as a starter (8-8) as the Cowboys missed the playoffs. His growth as a passer, however, was obvious as the Cowboys had two 1,000-yard receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.

In his four seasons, Prescott ranks among the top five quarterbacks in victories (40), passing touchdowns (97), rushing TDs (21) and Total QBR (68), becoming one of the NFL’s biggest bargains. He earned $4 million in salary and signing bonus the past four seasons.

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