It’s been almost eight years since brothers Zack and Nick Martin played on the same football team. But after Nick’s release by the Houston Texans yesterday and the Cowboys’ potential need for offensive line help in 2021, could a family reunion in Dallas be in the making?
The Martins were both starting offensive linemen for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in 2013; Zack at guard and Nick at center. Zack would join the Cowboys the following year as a 1st-round draft pick and then Nick, three years younger, entered the NFL as a 2nd-round pick by the Texans in 2016.
While never the All-Pro or Pro Bowl player that his older sibling has been, Nick Martin has been a starter in every game he’s played for Houston. He missed all of his rookie season with an ankle injury but returned in 2017 and has only missed two games since.
The Texans released Nick yesterday to save over $6 million in salary cap space, just one year into a three-year contract extension.
This makes Nick one of the more experienced free agent centers available this offseason. Plus he’ll only be 28 in April, making him more attractive from an age standpoint than other potential options like Alex Mack or Corey Lindsley.
The Dallas Cowboys may be in the market for a new starting center. While Tyler Biadasz performed adequately for a 4th-round rookie he was still one of the lowest-graded starters in the NFL last year.
But center isn’t the only position where Nick Martin could compete. There’s also left guard where Connor Williams hasn’t really established long-term viability after three seasons.
Unless the Cowboys see a clear and significant upgrade by adding Nick over one of their existing players I doubt they’d pay him what he’s looking for when free agency begins. Given that, the only way I see Nick coming to Dallas is if he remains unsigned during early free agency and then accepts a lesser deal to join his brother and stay in Texas.
That would mean a contract which makes Nick a clear competitor for a starting role but is also acceptable for a versatile backup. Essentially, Nick Martin would become the new Joe Looney.
Of course, having Zack and Nick Martin on the same roster means nothing to the Jones family. It’s a cute story and fun for writers like me but has no real bearing on the field.
Still, Nick Martin could provide real help to the Cowboys at positions of need. If there’s mutual interest and agreement on the money, the Martin brothers could very well be on the same roster again in 2021.