Remember the 2014 NFL Draft? The Dallas Cowboys held the 16th overall pick, and as Roger Goodell walked up to the podium, we were all nervous about the possibility the words “Johnny Manziel, quarterback, from Texas A&M” were coming. It was a pretty fun moment. But fortunately, they didn’t make that pick.
Instead, Dallas protected then-starting QB Tony Romo by drafting Zack Martin as the team’s new right guard. Since 2014, Martin has been a first team All-Pro twice. The other two years he’s been in the league, he’s been a second-team All-Pro.
Simply put, Zack Martin has been the best offensive guard in the NFL since entering the league.
Almost four years after he was drafted by America’s Team, Martin is heading into his last year under contract with the Cowboys. After picking up the fifth-year option on Martin’s contract, the question has now become how will the front office handle negotiations when they discuss his extension.
For a long time, we’ve thought of Zack Martin’s future extension as something that was inevitable; whoever they let walk in free agency, his deal’s going to happen. But… what if it doesn’t?
Maybe, just maybe, the Cowboys shouldn’t prioritize his deal this season.
Sure, it sounds crazy. Who would let the best guard in football walk, just because? But getting Zack an extension will not be an easy task for the Cowboys.
Last year, Cleveland Browns’ Guard Kevin Zeitler signed a $60M contract, which averaged $12M per year. Zack’s deal is going to be even more expensive.
His contract will probably make him the highest paid guard in the NFL.
The Cowboys are already paying Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick a lot of money. Even if retaining #70 would mean that the NFL’s best offensive line would remain the one in Dallas, is it worth it?
Truth be told, the Cowboys are a football team with a ton of needs on both sides of the ball.
This offseason’s to-do list is a pretty large one for the front office. They need to find a way to keep David Irving, DeMarcus Lawrence, Anthony Hitchens and maybe even add some free agent to come help this team. Who knows, they might even consider Earl Thomas’ request and actually go get him.
Let’s say that they bring Jonathan Cooper back. This group would have Smith, Cooper, Frederick and Collins in their offensive line. Even without Martin, that’s a very solid unit. Bring a decent guard to replace Zack, and you still have a good offensive line with an excellent running back and a mobile quarterback.
Could Zack Martin Be Traded?
One of the things that interests me the most, is this. If they decide not to give Martin his expected extension, is it possible they’d consider trading him? There would be no dead money at all and the Cowboys would free up more than $9M.
They could easily get a second-round pick and who knows, maybe even a first.
At a time in which the Cowboys need to add a lot of talent, it may be worth investing in other positions and be comfortable with a very good offensive line instead of the very best offensive line.
Ultimately, I think the deal will get done.
However, I don’t think it would be a bad idea for the Cowboys to think twice.
It’s nice to have one of the best offensive lines, but having three of the highest paid linemen in the league might end up hurting the Cowboys’ cap space and their ability to improve the team.