As usual, the Dallas Cowboys are entering the season with high expectations. They need a happy and healthy Zack Martin to reach their goals.
Zack Martin may have a pretty common game but his talent on the football field is anything but ordinary. The Cowboys guard is arguably the best player at his position in the NFL. That’s why Dallas needs to make sure they keep him happy if they are going to reach the playoffs this year.
Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, Martin isn’t very happy right now. He’s staying away from OTAs in hopes that his absence will encourage the team to make him a new contract offer. Martin is due to make $9.5 million this season in the fifth and final deal of his rookie contract.
At least Martin doesn’t seem overly concerned about the status of his contract negotiations. He claims he’s working out with teammates on his own and isn’t thinking too much about his contract. Martin is, however, “hopeful” that a new deal will be signed before the Cowboys minicamp begins.
Any discussions about a new deal for Martin will likely begin with the five-year, $66.5 million deal the Jacksonville Jaguars handed Andrew Norwell this offseason. In doing so, they made the former Carolina Panther the highest paid guard in football. Norwell is an excellent player, but Martin is a cut above.
The question for the Cowboys and Martin’s representative to answer will be just how much higher he will push the guard market. There’s no question the position is growing more valuable as team’s recognize the need to protect their quarterbacks from inside rushers. Much of Dak Prescott’s success as a quarterback is owed to the success of the Cowboy’s interior line.
Jason Garrett’s offense also places a lot of emphasis on running the football. Ezekiel Elliott is an excellent running back, but you have to wonder how effective he might be without Martin opening holes for him. He’d still produce a lot of yards, but it’s worth considering whether or not he’d still be an elite runner.
The bottom line here is that Dallas needs to do whatever is necessary to get Martin on the field once their minicamp begins. Missing OTAs is all well and good, but if Martin misses any mandatory team activities it’s going to signal big trouble for the Cowboys. The sooner they can give Martin a contract that makes him happy, the better off their offense will be in 2018.