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Zack Martin Cowboys

Should Cowboys Re-Do Zack Martin’s Contract?

  • Justin Melo
  • August 8, 2023
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Dallas Cowboys offensive guard Zack Martin continues to be absent from training camp. Martin and the Cowboys are involved in a salary-related standoff, as the lineman is unhappy with his contract. The Cowboys should rework Martin’s deal.

Martin has missed 12 training camp practices to date. That amounts to $600,000 (and counting) in fines the Cowboys cannot rescind. As a veteran, Martin’s absence is subject to daily mandatory fines of $50,000, which can’t be manually adjusted or lowered. Martin doesn’t possess an interest in reporting to camp under the current conditions. The Cowboys hold all the leverage and haven’t shown any intention of re-negotiating Martin’s contract, but that should change as September approaches.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently took an opportunity to remind Martin what his absence costs.

“It’s very costly, and so that’s where we are,” Jones recently said. “Huge, significant ramifications happening here by anybody’s measurement financially.”

Martin has two years remaining on a previously signed six-year, $84 million extension. Martin’s deal has aged poorly. Martin is eighth among guards in annual salary average at $14 million despite qualifying for eight Pro Bowls and six All-Pros. Chris Lindstrom ($20.5 million) and Quenton Nelson ($20 million) reset the market for top-performing guards. Martin understandably feels slighted. 

The Cowboys recently signed Trevon Diggs to a five-year extension worth $97 million. Jones is already thinking about extensions for Dak Prescott and Micah Parsons, too. Meanwhile, Martin has fallen into the backdrop despite arguably being the team’s most consistent year-by-year performer.

The Cowboys could offer Martin a one-year extension worth $21 million. That figure would place him in an annual bracket alongside Nelson and Lindstrom. The Cincinnati Bengals recently did something similar with Trey Hendrickson, who like Martin, was outperforming his current deal, and had two years left on his contract.  Hendrickson signed a one-year extension worth $21 million that came with a $5 million raise in 2023. Hendrickson’s contract now runs through 2025, and it actually lowered his cap hit for the upcoming campaign. Doing such business with Martin could eventually help them sign Prescott and/or Parsons (next offseason) to extensions if structured appropriately.

Martin was his usual steady self in 2022. He played 1,142 snaps at right guard, which accounted for 98.36% of all Cowboys offensive plays. Martin was credited with allowing zero sacks, two hits, and just 16 quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Focus. That consistency earned Martin a pass-blocking grade of 81.2. The ultimate technician, Martin was called for just one penalty. The Canton-bound guard is still playing at an extremely high level.

The Cowboys lack the depth necessary to adequately replace Martin at right guard should his holdout continue into the regular season. Matt Farniok, Josh Ball, and T.J. Bass have been receiving Martin’s snaps at right guard. Neither of those players is a starting-caliber guard. Martin may not have financial-related leverage, but he does have performance-related leverage.

The Cowboys enter the 2023 campaign with lofty expectations. Mike McCarthy’s squad is capable of competing for a Super Bowl if they reach their performance ceiling. Martin’s play is crucial to Dallas’ efforts. The Cowboys should negotiate with Martin in good faith.

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Justin Melo