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How Extending Zack Martin’s Contract Helps Cowboys Salary Cap

Jess Haynie

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Zack Martin

Zack Martin -- perhaps the best guard in the NFL -- presents the Dallas Cowboys with one of their biggest financial decisions of the 2018 offseason. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2019 if the Cowboys don't get a long-term extension done within the next year. But that doesn't mean the Cowboys can afford to wait.

Having played out the four years of his original rookie deal, Martin is now entering the optional fifth year that only applies to first-round picks. Teams have the right to exercise this fifth-year option and keep the player for one additional season, but not without a significant increase in the player's salary and cap hit.

In Zack Martin's case, this 2018 option year will pay him $9.3 million.

Last year, Martin's cap hit was $2.85 million.

That's a significant increase in his cap cost, which the Cowboys are not in a great position to deal with.

You've likely seen projections that the Cowboys will have roughly $18-$19 million in salary cap space going into the offseason. Thankfully, that figure already includes Martin's fifth-year increase. But Dallas could bring Martin's number down, and give themselves some more spending power, if they go ahead and get his long-term deal done now.

Travis Frederick And Zack Martin Disrespected By Pro Football Focus?

Dallas Cowboys RG Zack Martin, C Travis Frederick (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The model for this is Martin's fellow Pro Bowler, center Travis Frederick. The Cowboys signed Frederick to a long-term deal in 2016 for $56 million over six years.

Now, you may do the math there and see an average over $9 million per season. And with two years of inflation to consider, Martin's contract will likely be a little higher. So wouldn't the cap hit on his long-term deal be about the same as this one-year option? Why does it matter?

After the Cowboys extended Travis Frederick, they immediately did a contract restructure. This pushed more guaranteed money into the later part of the contract by converting salary into a signing bonus. This freed up significant cap space, lowering Frederick's 2016 cap hit to a little over $2 million.

Dallas can and should do the exact same with Zack Martin.

If they can get the long-term deal done before March, along with the immediate restructure, they could likely drop his current $9-million cap hit to somewhere around $2-3 million.

That's $6-7 million they can use to sign free agents, or perhaps put toward their efforts to re-sign defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.

The nice thing about a player like Zack Martin is that he is about as low risk as it gets. While he is 27 years old, Martin has started every game for the Cowboys since he joined the team in 2014. He rarely, if ever, appears on the injury report.

And again, he may be the best guard in all of football. Therefore, the Cowboys have every reason to get this Zack Martin situation settled immediately.

When it comes to player movement and cap management, it should be their top priority before free agency opens in March.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Dallas Cowboys

3 Reasons Not to Hate Kellen Moore Becoming Offensive Coordinator

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Coaching: Wade Wilson, Joe Baker Out; Who's Will Follow?

Days after firing Scott Linehan, the Dallas Cowboys continue their search for their next offensive coordinator. It all points toward the team making an in-house promotion, with QB coach Kellen Moore taking his mentor's place. According to Adam Schefter from ESPN, the former Boise State passer is the leading candidate for the offensive coordinator vacancy in Dallas.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Former NFL QB Jon Kitna, now offensive coordinator for the San Diego Fleet in the Alliance of American Football, is expected to become the Cowboys' QB coach, per a league source. Dallas' current QB coach, Kellen Moore, is a leading candidate to become Cowboys' OC, per sources.

The main reason to believe this, is the fact that Jon Kitna is expected to be hired as the team's QB Coach. This could mean plenty of things for Kellen Moore, but it's more than fair to believe he'll get the promotion.

Naturally, a huge amount of fans will be infuriated if Kellen Moore does get the coaching gig. His time as a player in the league wasn't any good. He's been part of Scott Linehan's coaching tree and that should mean Moore isn't capable of being an offensive coordinator, right?

Well, not so fast. Here are three reasons why you shouldn't hate Kellen Moore's candidacy for offensive coordinator.

1. Bad Player Doesn't Mean Bad Coach

First of all, let's forget about the idea than a player's performance is any indication of what he can be as a coach. It has absolutely no correlation. A bad player can turn into a pretty good coach and a good player can be terrible at coaching.

When we're talking about Kellen Moore, we're talking about a pretty smart kid. Ever since he was coming out of Boise State, scouts and analysts talked about his excellent football IQ. Moore clearly didn't last in the league because of his talent. What helped him stick around was his intelligence and knowledge. Teams that had him as a backup signal caller basically had a second QB coach on the locker room.

I actually found it funny how the perception around Moore has changed. When he was a backup on the roster, we talked about how he was very smart and could become a great coach someday but he didn't have it as a player. Now that he is a coach, we're talking about how he can't coach because he didn't play well. How is that logical?

2. Working With Linehan Doesn't Mean He’s Linehan 2.0

Now, another big concern is the fact that he worked many years with recently fired Scott Linehan. This doesn't mean Kellen Moore has the exact same offensive philosophy than his mentor. Sure, he worked with Linehan's offense because it was his job. We don't actually know what he'd bring to the table when he's in charge of the offense. Not to mention, Linehan wasn't always awful. There's a reason why for some years his offense was pretty productive. Moore can take the positive lessons from Scott and throw in a little of his own to make the Cowboys' offense efficient.

Dallas could move the chains last season. It was in specific areas like the red zone, long down situations that the team struggled. Kellen Moore could very well have what it takes to change that. At the end of the day, we won't know until we actually see what Moore's philosophy looks like.

3. Jason Garrett Will Take Over the Offense

For some years, Linehan was in complete control of the offense. This time around, it feels like it will be Jason Garrett's unit. This might be the most important aspect of this whole thing. This is Garrett's plan. This could very well be a great staff working together. Moore can be eased into his job with Jason Garrett calling the plays on the sideline at the start of the season.

With TE Coach Doug Nussmeier's help, this group could get this offense going. If Garrett will remain at the wheel, let him have control over his offense. If he fails, at least you gave him the chance to structure his staff and get involved.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

And @mortreport reports that HC Jason Garrett is in line to wind up calling the Cowboys' plays this season. https://t.co/EWri4mZAgH

I know this will not be a popular decision by the Cowboys, but I frankly believe it might work. Although the head coach is the same, this would be a very different staff in 2019. The hire is not yet official, but it all points toward this happening.

Personally, I would've preferred the team to hire an outsider to refresh the ideas in the building. However, I don't hate the idea of Kellen Moore stepping up to the position. And you shouldn't either. At least not until we actually see what he has in store for us.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue to update you with every news regarding the Dallas Cowboys.

What do you think of Kellen Moore being the leading candidate for OC?

Tell me what you think about "3 Reasons Not to Hate Kellen Moore Becoming Offensive Coordinator" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Roster Looking Pretty Good for 2019

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys Have a Championship Defense

It was hard to watch the 2018 Dallas Cowboys end their season in the Divisional Round versus the Los Angeles Rams. The widely recognized Cowboys’ defense couldn’t find a way to stop the Rams’ running backs. Even still, it was a successful season in many ways. Dak Prescott played well and clearly improved after the team got him a great #1 wide receiver in Amari Cooper. The defense had a breakout season, getting to be one of the best units in the league. Young talent on the team shined bright.

Yet, as every year, the season ends with questions. What was the reason the Cowboys couldn't hold their own against the Rams? What are the team's weak spots? What position should the Cowboys aim to upgrade in the offseason? What was the most relevant problem?

To answer that last question, I can't avoid thinking of the word "play-calling," which was a huge issue in Dallas both in 2018 and in 2017. But the Dallas Cowboys finally pulled the trigger and made a bigger change in the coaching staff. Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan has been released as the team looks to change its offense heading into 2019. Also, a change at defensive coordinator could also be next for Dallas considering Kris Richard’s success since his arrival.

But let's leave coaching aside for a moment. Let's talk about this team's roster. The Cowboys actually have a talented group of players on the team. Of course, there are needs that must be taken care of, but there aren't really that many positions in which the team requires desperate help. Now granted, the front office will be very busy dealing with in-house extensions trying to extend many players' stays in Dallas.

This will be no easy task, but Stephen Jones and company have done a very decent job handling the cap space over the last few years. With much space to work with, there's reason to believe they will get things done. When it comes to adding talent to the team, let's talk about the elephant in the room. The Cowboys lack a first round pick. After all, getting Amari Cooper on the Cowboys had a cost.

But hey, thanks to that trade, Dak Prescott's offense has a great set of wide receivers. Michael Gallup continued to grow as the season went on. The offensive line is not there yet, but I'm confident in Connor Williams being a way better player than he was as a rookie. As for the defense, the Cowboys' front seven is one of the most promising in the entire league. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are one of the best LB duos in football. This is a legit football roster.

The team needs a defensive tackle, an upgrade at safety and probably a more prepared tight end. They probably could use help at many other positions, but I don't mean to rank the biggest concerns on the roster heading into 2019. However, if the front office fails to considerably improve any of these positions, it'll be far from the worst thing to happen.

Cowboys Can't Afford Injuries to Travis Frederick or Jeff Heath

Whether you like him or not, Jeff Heath has been decent enough to be a starter on the team. He won't be great, but he can get the job done. Defensive tackle wasn't a very big issue with Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins stepping up all throughout the season. The tight ends consistently improved week after week, featuring Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin.

Obviously, we want improvements. We want a better player at each position. But once the NFL free agency and the Draft comes around, it'll be important to remember that the Cowboys have a good roster and could get wins with the guys they have now. Desperate moves shouldn't really be on their plans. This is a team with enough talent to win in 2019.

Assuming Kris Richard earns the defensive coordinator title next season, having two new heads among the staff should be refreshing enough to exploit that talent's potential. Talent should be added, and even big time free agents such as Earl Thomas deserve consideration. But this is not a roster that's desperate. In fact, it's a roster in very good shape. The Cowboys might not have a first round pick, but frankly, they are in a very good position to lack a first rounder.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Roster Looking Pretty Good for 2019" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo Won’t Be the Next Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator

John Williams

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It Is Time for the Dallas Cowboys to Move on From Tony Romo

The pipe dream has been going on since former Dallas Cowboys Quarterback-turned CBS Analyst Tony Romo hung up his cleats for the black blazer. Fans from all corners of Cowboys Nation have clamored for a return to the field or at worst the sideline as the Cowboys offensive coordinator.

Let me stop you right there. It's not happening.

First of all. He's never been a coach at any level of football, so to assume that he could leave the broadcast booth and step into coaching an NFL offense and doing so at a high level is a huge leap of faith in number 9. Sure, Jon Gruden left the Monday Night Football booth for his lucrative deal with the Oakland Raiders, but he had won a Super Bowl and had been an offensive coordinator and head coach in the NFL for years before joining the broadcasting ranks.

Tony Romo has an excellent understanding of football. He displays it on a regular basis during the CBS broadcasts. But doing from the broadcast view, seeing what the defense is trying to do, and calling the plays to counter what the defense is trying to do are very different things.

Secondly, the coaching job would be a major time commitment that at the moment he doesn't have. Even if he's working a 40 hour work week in preparation for his three-hour time slot, the demands on NFL coaches are easily twice that with many coaches putting in 100 hour work weeks in preparation for Sundays. Tony Romo has a family that even he's talked about as part of the reason that he went into broadcasting instead of looking to hop on with another NFL team.

Finally, the job would mean a significant pay cut from what Romo is already making. It's estimated that the former Cowboys quarterback is making anywhere from $5-10 million dollars a year with CBS. Jason Garrett is making $6 million per year as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, so even if the Jones family was willing to pay first-time NFL coach Tony Romo a ton of money to come out of the broadcast booth, there's zero chance they pay him what he's making as a broadcaster. To do so, would be to undercut the head coach. Jason Garrett is Jerry Jones' guy. The owner and general manager wants Garrett to be the guy that leads the Cowboys to Super Bowl success, so there's zero chance he'd pay a coordinator close to Garrett's money, which would lead to constant speculation about the head coach and his future with the organization.

I love Tony Romo. His jersey is one of only two Cowboys jerseys that I own -- along with Darren Woodson -- and I think he could make a good coach one day, but I'd be hard pressed to see him come out of the coaching booth to take a coordinator job and have immediate success. The guys that are offensive coordinators in the NFL have been grinding for years to earn their jobs. Most started as position coaches -- see Sean McVay as Redskins TE coach. The Dallas Cowboys will spend the next few days, and perhaps weeks, identifying their replacement for Scott Linehan, but let's put to bed the dream of Romo as offensive coordinator.

It's just not going to happen.



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