FRISCO, Texas – Sean Lee is closing the book on his playing career.
After 11 seasons that his share of ups and downs, Lee is deciding to retire.
Lee will retire ranked eighth in Cowboys history in tackles, with 995 career stops.
A two-time Pro Bowler, Lee's career was often derailed by injuries, as he missed 58 total games throughout his career, including the entire 2014 season. He missed at least five games in a season five different times, including this past year when he played just nine games.
But when he was on the field, he was truly one of the Cowboys' best players, and of course, one of their top leaders.
Lee holds the Cowboys' club record for tackles in a game with 22 against the Giants in 2016.
A formal announcement from the Cowboys and Lee could occur later this week.
After the season-finale loss to the Giants, Lee said "I still think I have a lot to give," but planned to take some time before deciding whether to keep playing.
"You can't make decisions in-season or right after the season. You need a perspective of getting away from it further," he said then. "And you think about yourself physically, you think about yourself mentally, and then role-wise can you still help the team, can you do it on the field and play a role where you know that you can make sure you're helping the team win. So you have to check all those boxes and know it 100% before you make a commitment to come back.
"That will be the process I go through. Can I help us? Physically, can I continue to do this? Mentally, am I ready? You really look deep into those before you make a commitment."
Lee, 34, took the same approach last offseason before signing a one-year deal to play an 11th season with the Cowboys. The veteran linebacker has battled injuries throughout his career, and last season was one of his biggest challenges. He had offseason core muscle surgery to reattach abdominal muscles to his pelvic bone, did not practice during a pandemic-shortened training camp, and spent the first seven games on injured reserve rehabbing with the athletic training staff.
In 2021, Lee's role increased down the stretch. After starting middle linebacker Leighton Vander Esch sprained his ankle, Lee played a season-high 50 and 30 snaps, respectively, in the Cowboys' final two games against the Giants and Eagles.
As it turned out, those will be the final two games of Lee's career.