Cowboys sign G Zack Martin to record deal, punt tough financial decisions down the road


Offensive line has been a cornerstone for the Dallas Cowboys for years.

They intend to keep it that way.

Cowboys make Zack Martin NFL’s highest-paid guard

The Dallas Cowboys and guard Zack Martin agreed to a six-year, $84 million extension with $40 million guaranteed on Wednesday, according to multiple reports. The deal makes him the NFL’s highest paid guard by annual salary and in guaranteed money.

“My agents and I, that’s what we were shooting for,” Martin told the Dallas Morning News of being the league’s best-paid guard. “It’s a huge honor. That will probably get beat by someone, whenever the next one signs, but that’s how it works.”

The Cowboys continued their massive investment in a dominant offensive line, but will face tough decisions when Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are due new contracts. (AP)
The Cowboys continued their massive investment in a dominant offensive line, but will face tough decisions when Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are due new contracts. (AP)

Martin sat out voluntary OTAs as the two worked out a deal that had been in progress since last year, according to the Morning News. He has been at mandatory minicamp the last two days as the two sides have worked out details on the contract.

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Martin has made the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons since being drafted in 2014 and is a two-time first-team All-Pro.

Cowboys’ salary cap heavily invested in offensive line

The move continues a Cowboys trend of putting big money into one of the league’s dominant offensive lines. Dallas now has the NFL’s highest-paid guard, tackle and center.


Martin, Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick have combined to make 13 Pro Bowls. Smith and Frederick are signed through 2023, while Martin’s deal extends to 2024.

With Martin’s new deal, four of the Cowboys’ eight highest salary cap hits in 2018 reside on the offensive line. Right tackle La’el Collins’ $5.8 million hit this season makes him the team’s fourth highest-paid offensive lineman.

What happens when Dak Prescott’s rookie deal expires?

The Cowboys are able to invest so heavily in their offensive line thanks in large part to quarterback Dak Prescott being on a rookie deal. Teams have shown varying levels of success when given the ideal situation of having a capable young quarterback on the cheap.

Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott are both playing on rookie contracts that will expire after the 2019 season.  (AP)
Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott are both playing on rookie contracts that will expire after the 2019 season.  (AP)

The Seattle Seahawks provided a blueprint for team building when they surrounded Russell Wilson with the Legion of Boom while he was on his rookie contract, going to back-to-back Super Bowl and winning one.

The Indianapolis Colts are the other side of the coin, as they failed to protect Andrew Luck or surround him with enough talent to contend while he was on his rookie deal.

Prescott hasn’t yet demonstrated that he should be in the same conversation as Luck or Wilson, but he has shown flashes and is the Cowboys’ franchise quarterback. His contract runs through 2019, and if he develops into the quarterback Dallas hopes he is, he’ll command a significant pay increase over the four-year, $2.7 million deal he signed as a rookie.

Adding to pending financial stress will be running back Ezekiel Elliott coming off of his rookie deal at the same time.

The Cowboys obviously believe they’re in a win-now situation with their investment in the offensive line. If they don’t develop into contenders this season or next, it will be a massive disappointment in Dallas.

And even if they do, there will be difficult decisions to make once it’s time to re-up with Prescott and Elliott.

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Jason Owens is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter.

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