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What free agency says about Dez Bryant, Zack Martin and the Cowboys drafting a linebacker

NFL free agency sure brings out the craziness.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The free agency craziness is upon us and all we can do is sick back and watch. Here are my quick thoughts on some of the activity so far...

Are the Cowboys ready to give up on Dez Bryant?

The wide receiver jackpot payouts have begun. Sammy Watkins is signing a gi-normous deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. Allen Robinson is signing a huge deal with the Chicago Bears. The Cowboys front office is said to have been interested in both of these receivers. Does this mean that the team is looking for a new #1 WR to have count heavily against their cap? Such a deal would be the end all, be all to Dez Bryant’s career in Dallas, right?

This is my own gut instinct talking, but I think all the Dez stuff is a facade. I’m not buying that the organization is looking to replace him with Watkins or Robinson. Their “interest” was merely a bluff. The Cowboys front office is trying to downplay his value so they can get him on a cheaper contract. Even listening to Jason Garrett tells me something is off about this whole ordeal. Garrett flat out loves Dez and the fact that he was being so vague tells me the front office is collectively being quiet so they can more effectively renegotiate his deal. Garrett hasn’t suddenly changed his mind on how he feels about Dez. This whole thing is a ploy. Again, just my gut feeling.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that the Cowboys are not that thrilled with Bryant, whether it’s based on cost/production or some type of issue in the locker room. Only time will tell, but my money is on Bryant sticking around and the organization openly re-sharing their love for him once all the financial stuff gets worked out.

Does losing Hitchens mean the Cowboys need a linebacker at 19?

When it comes to retaining Anthony Hitchens, you won’t find a more willing armchair GM spender than yours truly. However, for $9 million a season - Yowsers! The former Cowboys linebacker now makes more money per year than Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith combined. I wanted Hitchens back in a huge way, but not for that kind of cash.

We all saw this coming, right? I’ll admit, there was a small part of me that was hoping that he would be attached to the city, the coaches, and the love and friendship of his teammates to where he might take a hometown discount. But considering the offer he received, that had to be the easiest decision he’s ever made in his life. The only surprise was that the big money deal came from the Kansas City Chiefs and not the Indianapolis Colts where his former coach, Matt Eberflus, now resides. Hitchens didn’t follow Eberflus to Indianaoplis. Instead, he followed the Benjamin Franklins to KC.

And while Hitchens departure was something that was expected, there now seems to be a sudden panic in Cowboys Nation about their current linebacker situation. Should the team trade up in the first-round to get Roquan Smith or Trumaine Edmunds? Well, the answer to that question should be the same as it was yesterday. If you love those players and feel they are worth it, then yes, go get them. But keep in mind, the Cowboys would most likely be able to get a solid LB with the pick they’d be giving away in order to move up to 19.

Should they consider Rashaan Evans or Leighton Vander Esch now at 19? Reaching is never a good idea.

Congrats to Hitchens on his big contract and maybe if the Cowboys get lucky that big money deal will result in a nice compensatory pick next year. How cool would it be to get solid contribution from a fourth-round pick, only to turn around and get another fourth-round pick? Good drafting is the gift that keeps on giving.

How much is it going to cost to keep Zack Martin?

At this rate - a gazillion dollars.

Well, maybe not quite that much, but with each waking moment his price tag continues to go up. With the news of Andrew Norwell reaching a five-year, $66.5 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, that now puts him in the lead as the highest paid guard, averaging $13.3 million per year.

As our own Dave Halprin stated, the table stakes have been set and it’s only a matter of time before Jerry Jones cuts him a check.

The Cowboys now have the parameters of what it will take to make Zack Martin the highest-paid guard in the league. At some point this offseason, they will have to go ahead and make a deal. They need to bring down Martin’s cap number in 2018, and they also need to lock him up long-term, or else they will be resorting to placing franchise tags on him.

It’s really unclear as to why a Martin deal hasn’t already been done. Sure, playing him on his fifth-year option price of $9.3 million is cheaper annually than any new deal he’d get. And franchise tagging him next season would also be a little bit cheaper. Maybe these financial details play a part in that decision. Or maybe the Cowboys are trying to get some other contractual stuff done before they show the world just how much Martin means to them? Do they really want to try to sway Dez into taking a pay cut after giving a truck load of money to Martin?

Who knows, but one thing is certain - getting Martin under contract is going to be spendy.

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