Dallas Cowboys: The Anticipated Extension of Zack Martin

Nov 13, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin (70) blocks in pass protection against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. The Cowboys won 35-30. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 13, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin (70) blocks in pass protection against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. The Cowboys won 35-30. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Cowboys guard Zack Martin has proven to be one of the best in the league and with his rookie contract almost up, he may be looking for an extension of historic proportions.

In the 2014 NFL Draft, there wasn’t a prospect more polarizing than Texas A&M Quarterback Johnny Manziel. “Johnny Football” had been putting together highlight reels of miraculous comebacks to add to his already astonishing resume. At the time, he finished his freshman year as the youngest player in history to win the illustrious Heisman Trophy, awarded to the best in college football. His play on the field were as polarizing as his antics off of it.

Many tried to predict where Manziel would end up, but as the draft started he began to slip. Pick after pick was announced and Johnny continued to fall. Once the Steelers announced they would be taking Ohio St. linebacker Ryan Shazier, fans and media alike looked ahead to the 16th pick. The Dallas Cowboys. Could Johnny Manziel really be heading to Jerry World? Everyone waited with great anticipation…

Fortunately, they did not. Instead, opted for one of the “safest” picks in the entire draft class. A tackle/guard from Notre Dame named Zack Martin. Now, it wasn’t like Zack Martin wasn’t considered a prominent prospect during the pre-draft process. In fact, he was widely regarded as one of the top in the class. But Johnny Manziel was the apple of the nation’s eye. His “money hands” signaled was well televised and many believed he’d be a savior for any franchise. How things took a turn.

Early Success and the Fifth Year Option

Johnny Manziel is now out of the league after two poor seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He’s in the middle of legal trouble, attempting to control his drug habits, and desperately trying to get back into the NFL. Zack Martin, on the other hand, became one of four rookies to be voted to the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl, the first Cowboys’ rookie to do so since running back Calvin Hill in 1969. He was also selected to the 2014 AP All-Pro team, the first rookie offensive lineman since 1947 (Dick Huffman).

It only went up from there, as Martin would go on to receive All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections in both 2015 and 2016. An incredible feat for an incredible player. While the Cowboys’ offensive line was solid before he was drafted, his addition vaulted them to the best unit in the league.

The Cowboys have already confirmed they will be picking up his fifth-year option, securing his services through 2018. An obvious choice for Jerry & Co. The smarter decision, however, comes in the form of an extension that will lock him up for the foreseeable future. Something we know Dallas has been working on since the end of last season.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

So, what would a contract for Martin look like? Just last season, center Travis Frederick signed a six year, $56 million extension, making him the highest-paid center in the league. While we can look to this as a starting point, it’s important to remember they play different positions and that Martin may just be more talented than his teammate.

Possible Contract

A better benchmark is the five year, $58.5 million contract given by the Oakland Raiders to Kelechi Osemele last year, a deal that made him the highest-paid guard in the league. That’s an average of nearly $12 million per year. A huge contract that may need to be surpassed if Dallas wants to get a deal done.

Could Martin take a hometown discount? Possibly, but highly unlikely. He is likely to become the highest paid guard in the NFL and he more than deserves it. It’s also important to note that Dallas signed the other two All-Pro linemen to longer term extensions, Tyron Smith with an eight year and Frederick to six.

With all of this in mind, the contract we can anticipate will likely be around a five-year, $60 million deal with over $27 million guaranteed. It seems like a massive contract, especially considering the Cowboys have already invested $166 million to two other players and a deal like this would push them to $226 million! However, one thing we can learn from today’s culture in the NFL: If you don’t pay, someone else will.

The Cowboys have established an identity, revolving around a dominant offensive line and the NFL’s rushing leader in Ezekiel Elliott. This identity led them to a 13-3 season in 2016 and bright hope for many seasons to come. Signing both Smith and Frederick were the first steps, but Martin will be just as necessary to keep the Cowboys’ Super Bowl dreams alive.

We are still waiting with great anticipation for the deal to get done. But two things are certain: first, Zack Martin will be offered a large contract to stay a Cowboy for life. Second, that contract will likely make him the highest paid in the league at his position.