ESPN Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Sean Lee has been told he has a torn ACL and is expected to miss the entire season, a source told ESPN’s Ed Werder. More from ESPN.comSean Lee’s injuries and the games he will play in will affect an already large base $42 million contract the team gave last August, writes Todd Archer. The Cowboys have made no official statement regarding the results of the MRI performed on Lee’s injured left knee, but the linebacker has been told the exam confirmed he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee and he is not expected to play during the 2014 season. Lee tore his right ACL in April 2008 while at Penn State, then partially tore his left ACL during the 2009 season. “Sean has had to deal with injuries throughout college and also here in the NFL,” coach Jason Garrett said earlier Tuesday. “He really does everything he can to get himself ready to play. Unfortunately, he had to deal with a few of those things, but he’s as mentally tough as an individual I’ve ever been around. Whatever the circumstances are, he always puts his best foot forward and strives to be his best. I don’t anticipate this being any different.” On the play on which he was injured, Lee appeared to be slipping while being blocked by rookie right guard Zack Martin on a screen pass. Lee remained on the ground and needed to be helped to the locker room by members of the training staff. The Cowboys allowed one TD every 24 plays with LB Sean Lee on the field last season compared to one TD every 19 plays with him off the field. “I don’t really know what happened,” said Martin, the Cowboys’ first-round pick. “Two guys playing hard, running to the ball. We’ll see what happens. … Hope for the best. He’s obviously a great player, leader of the defense.” Lee missed five games last season with hamstring and neck injuries. He was cleared from the neck injury at the start of the offseason program in April. He missed two games as a rookie in 2010 with a hamstring injury and one game in 2011 with a dislocated wrist, playing most of that season wearing a cast. Toe surgery forced him to miss 10 games in 2012. The Cowboys signed Lee to a six-year extension last summer worth as much as $51 million. It included a $10 million signing bonus. The base value of the deal is $42 million, and Lee could have earned up to $9 million more if he played in at least 80 percent of the snaps.is vital to the Cowboys’ defense. He led the team in tackles in 2011 despite the wrist injury, then finished fourth on the team in 2012 with 77 despite playing in only six games. Lee led the Cowboys in interceptions last season with four. The Cowboys used four middle linebackers last season because of injury — Lee, Justin Durant, Ernie Sims and DeVonte Holloman. Dallas selected Anthony Hitchens in the fourth round of this year’s draft to be Lee’s backup. Hitchens played weakside linebacker at Iowa.
Sean Lee has been the Cowboys most consistent defensive playmakers over the past few seasons, and after the team released pass rusher DeMarcus Ware this offseason, they were expecting Lee to become the best player on their on their defense. The knock on Lee coming out of Penn State was that he could never stay healthy, and although he has been a standout when he is on the field in the NFL, injuries have plagued his career. The loss of Lee for the entire 2014 NFL season is a huge blow to a Cowboys defense that was nothing short of horrendous last season, and the team has now lost three of their top defenders (Lee, Ware, Jason Hatcher) from that unit, so my expectations for the Dallas defense are very low entering the coming season. The Cowboys are going to have to put up a lot of points to win games this season, which they should be capable of doing, so expect a lot of shootouts in 2014.