FRISCO, Texas – Safe to say Sean Lee is rejuvenated.
Returning for his 10th season in Dallas, the veteran linebacker has jumped back into voluntary offseason workouts with one team goal in mind.
"You almost get chills coming back being able to have this opportunity," he said at 105.3 The Fan's "Mud Bug Bash" in late April. "I think about how fast times move, and not having a championship, there's frustration that sits in you. You'd like to get rid of that before your career's over, too."
Flash back four months ago immediately following the Cowboys' divisional-round playoff loss: Lee, who missed nine games due to hamstring injuries, said he needed to contemplate his football future.
Lee missed five games (and most of another at Atlanta) in 2017, too. He'd spent all offseason working to correct his hamstring issues. To call his setbacks in 2018 discouraging is an understatement.
"I think at that point, the frustration of dealing with injuries – particularly how the last two years have gone – that was tough for me," he said. "And that was something that I really had to battle.
"Luckily I was able to be around great teammates, great guys on defense and great guys in my room. And seeing our team grow from where we were in the middle of the season until the end, it was something that I said, 'I have to find a way to be a part of it because I love this group.' And then a couple weeks out you're like, 'Man I like football too much to give it up right now.' So all that together kind of brought me back."
In March, Lee and the Cowboys agreed to a restructured contract for 2019, the final year of his current deal. The 32-year-old was a valuable mentor for Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch last season as both linebackers stepped into leadership roles while he was injured.
Together, the work begins to take a step forward this season.
"For us, we know that we did a good job last year," Lee said, "but we have to find a way to take that next step and hopefully break through to get a championship. To me, that's been what I've wanted to be part of in the worst way throughout my career. And I'm trying to do whatever it takes to get to that. That's what we're trying to figure out now."