It’s been almost a year since the Dallas Cowboys signed Travis Frederick to a long-term extension. In the immediate aftermath we said we’d be singing the same song a year later with Zack Martin. The music’s playing, when do we start singing?
The Cowboys have handled extending two-thirds of their elite offensive linemen identically, both happening under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (Can we still call it new? I feel like we do but it’s been about a million years).
When Tyron Smith was entering his fourth year with the team in 2014 (coincidentally Martin’s rookie season) the Cowboys gave him the biggest non-QB deal in franchise history (in terms of total money). A year ago when Travis Frederick was entering his fourth season he became the NFL’s highest-paid center. It’s fourth-year time for Zack Martin.
Tyron’s deal came on July 30th, 2014. The first preseason game of that season for the Cowboys was on August 7th in San Diego (RIP). Travis Frederick’s was struck on August 13th, 2016. The first preseason game of last season was that same day in Los Angeles against the Rams.
We’re now past all of the aforementioned points where a deal landed: July 30th, August 13th, and the first preseason game of the 2017 season (coincidentally also in Los Angeles against the Rams where Cooper Rush emerged as the greatest backup quarterback ever). This year’s team has actually played two preseason games already, courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.
Now this is hardly cause for concern. The Cowboys are going to get a deal done with Zack Martin, but the question of when now seems to be floating in uncharted waters. The deals with Smith and Frederick have been over and done with by this point in time, and you can even throw La’el Collins in the mix as his was done earlier in training camp.
Last week Stephen Jones spoke on the status of Martin’s contract, letting us know that a deadline isn’t something that they’re worried about.
"I'm never going to put a deadline on something like that," Jones said. "Sometimes players don't like to think about it a lot, but then you're able to work behind the scenes sometimes and still get it to where they're comfortable. But obviously we're going to respect Zack and how he wants the mechanics of the process to work and we'll work within those. I fully suspect we'll work something out at some point in time and he’ll be a Dallas Cowboy for most of his career, in my mind."
It’s hard to imagine the Cowboys want to enter this season with this not done, but the 2014 draft class is difficult to lock up from what we’ve seen. Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Rams stud defensive lineman Aaron Donald are ready to get paid as well. Sammy Watkins, who was just traded last week, said a month ago that this class would change the salary market considering how great it’s been overall.
Which domino will fall first? Martin, Donald, or Beckham? All will conceivably be the highest-paid players at their respective positions, it’s just a matter of which team strikes first. Back in May we here at BTB projected Martin’s potential contract:
It would seem at the very least that Martin will get a contract averaging somewhere in the $12.5-$13 million per year range, with at least about $30 million guaranteed. With that said, don’t be surprised if he ends up getting over $13 million per year, and perhaps even closer to $14 million, along with $35-$40 million guaranteed.
Thursday marks the last practice in Oxnard for the Cowboys. One would have to imagine that they would like to have this sewed up before they pack their bags to come home to host the Colts in Week 2 of the preseason, as they are past both the Smith and Frederick points in terms of when things were done.
Considering that Stephen Jones’ comments are from about a week ago now, it makes sense that we could be in the eleventh hour. Hopefully the clock strikes midnight while Dallas is still in Pacific Time.