ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee could miss out on a $2 million escalator on his 2016 base salary after being listed as inactive for Sunday's 34-23 loss to the Washington Redskins because of a hamstring strain.
Lee needs to play in 80 percent of the Cowboys' snaps this season in order to bump his $3 million base salary to $5 million. He entered Sunday's game having played in 82.1 percent of the snaps. He was in uniform for a pregame workout, but it did not go well enough for him to play through the injury.
Lee said he made the decision to not play on the grounds that the strain happened too close to the start of the game.
"Any time with a hamstring, if it bites at all, you know that it's probably not going to warm up and feel better," Lee told the Dallas Morning News. "As I kept warming up and running, it didn't feel better."
By not playing Sunday, Lee will fall below the threshold for the $2 million. The Cowboys could give Lee the escalator anyway, though.
"It was me who decided to not play," Lee said. "It didn't feel like I was going to be effective enough to help the football team. Thursday in 7-on-7, [I] didn't warm up well enough and kind of tweaked the hamstring. The problem was it was a little too close to the game."
Lee did not play in the Cowboys' Nov. 15 game at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, despite being cleared through the concussion protocol. During training camp, the Cowboys reworked Jeremy Mincey's contract by adding $500,000 to his base salary after he missed an escalator by 11 snaps in 2014.
After missing last season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Lee leads the Cowboys this season with a career-high 128 tackles. He also has recorded 2.5 sacks, an interception and five pass deflections. The coaches' breakdown also credits him with 11 tackles for loss and six quarterback pressures.
The Cowboys were also without starting left guard La'el Collins (ankle) and cornerback Morris Claiborne (hamstring). Wide receivers Vince Mayle and Rodney Smith, tackle Chaz Green and quarterback Jameill Showers were also inactive.