By: Anthony Miller
With training camp around the corner, the Dallas Cowboys might be facing a potential issue with All-Pro guard Zack Martin not showing up.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Wednesday that Martin is considering not reporting to training camp as he is unhappy with his current contract. Schefter’s sources also say he’s not happy to see the team’s lack of interest in restructuring his contract as he believes he is “woefully underpaid relative to the market.” His current contract for this season has him getting paid about $7 million less than the NFL’s top-paid guards.
Martin has been one of the best guards in the NFL since being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2014 in the first round. He has been named to eight Pro Bowls and is a six-time First-Team All-Pro. 2021 and last season, Martin was named both a Pro Bowler and a First-Team All-Pro. EA Sports announced this week that Martin will be a 99 overall on the upcoming Madden 24 video game set to be released in August.
The Problem with Zack Martin’s Current Contract Situation
There haven’t been many guards, if any, that have been as dominant as Martin has been in the last nine years. It’s rare to see him not on any Pro Bowl or top players’ list as he has been a star from day one. His pure strength and versatility make it tough for any defensive lineman to match up against him.
Hence lies the issue of why Martin is the eighth highest-paid guard in the NFL with guys that don’t have the resume he does. Dallas must realize as a franchise that you are going to have to pay top players top money. The team has restructured Martin’s contract multiple times throughout the last couple of years to try to work the salary cap and pay for other players.
It appears it’s time for the Cowboys to start making some decisions on whether they want to pay Martin more money or see him sit out. This is a trend fans might be seeing a bit of this training camp with the state of running backs not getting long-term deals. Dallas is seeing it firsthand with Tony Pollard not getting a long-term deal and having to play his franchise tag. Not paying Pollard could be a sign to the other players that renegotiating contracts may not be on Dallas’ radar right now.
Why Dallas Must Offer a New Contract to Martin
This is one of those situations where Dallas doesn’t really have many options that are going to be good for him. The first thing will be to give in and give him the money he wants, but that could lead to cuts/trades of good players on the team to save money. Another option is to let him sit out and see what he does. The risk they run with that is he could either sit out the whole time and end up getting moved somewhere else or he comes back to play but lose him after the season.
Martin is no doubt going to be a Hall of Famer when all is said and done with his career, so the Cowboys must realize the risk of losing him. Replacing him would be a near-impossible task off the bat. Even with the emergence of Tyler Smith last year, he’s not ready to play at the level of Martin.
Of the offensive linemen on the roster, Martin and Tyron Smith are the only two that are older than 30 years old and to add to that, older than 26 years old. Both Martin and Smith are 32 years old and are the veterans on a very young offensive line. While there is talent on the line, a lot of it has potential and will need time to develop.
Dallas will not find a replacement on the roster or in free agency that can play at the level of Martin. The reality is if the Cowboys want to stay in the Super Bowl conversation, they need to pay Martin and make sure he is happy. An offensive line without him would not be good for Dallas unless they find hidden talent within the younger linemen.
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