Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee will watch $2 million of future salary disappear when the Cowboys’ defense is on the field for the 27th play of the day today.
Lee’s contract calls for his salary to be $5 million in 2016 if he plays at least 80 percent of the Cowboys’ defensive snaps in 2015, but only $3 million if he plays less than 80 percent of the Cowboys’ defensive snaps. So far this season, Lee has played 812 of the Cowboys’ 989 snaps, or 82.1 percent.
But the Cowboys have declared Lee inactive today with a hamstring injury. That means that when the Cowboys’ defense plays its 27th play today, and its 1,016th play of the season, Lee will have officially played less than 80 percent of the plays for the season.
It’s a rough break for Lee, but it’s part of the business of the NFL: Players have incentive clauses that can be worth millions, and they don’t always control whether they reach those incentives. Lee will fall just short of the $2 million extra he could have made in 2016.