FRISCO, Texas – On the field, there’s a boatload of work to do before the Cowboys head to training camp. Rookie minicamp is out of the way, but this team is still preparing for nine days of OTA practices, not to mention a three-day veteran minicamp.
Off the field, though, it’s remarkable how well the Cowboys have handled their business to this point. The retirements of Doug Free and Tony Romo have answered two of the biggest book keeping questions of the offseason, and the front office has already signed eight of its nine draft picks.
Heading into the summer, that leaves just one big question in the form of a possible contract extension for Zack Martin. Speaking on 105.3 FM The Fan on Sunday morning, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said the Cowboys are already considering those numbers.
“Yeah, we’re kind of looking at them,” he said. “We usually work on these things, a lot of times, in training camp. That’s when the player is up for it.”
That’s proven accurate over the last few years – particularly in regard to the Cowboys’ vaunted offensive line. Tyron Smith signed his eight-year, $97 million contract extension on July 31, 2014, during training camp. Travis Frederick signed his six-year, $56 million extension last August, just before the team’s preseason opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
Martin is entering the fourth year of his rookie deal, though it’s not technically a contract year. The Cowboys exercised the fifth-year option on Martin’s contract back in April, which means he’s under club control through the 2018 season. If he isn’t extended before then, he’s scheduled to make $9.3 million in his fifth season.
This is the same schedule the Cowboys followed with Smith and Frederick – picking up their options in the spring before extending them in the summer. Martin said last week that he knows it’s a popular topic of discussion, but he’s not thinking about it.
“People ask that a lot, but we’re getting close to the season now. It’s getting serious now, and we’ve got to sit down and talk about going out and winning games,” he said. “That’s what I’m focusing on right now, and if anything else happens it’ll take care of itself.”
Whenever Martin’s next payday comes, it promises to be substantial. The Indianapolis native is a two-time, first-team All-Pro, and he has been a Pro Bowler all three years he has been in the NFL. He has helped pave the way for two different NFL rushing champions – DeMarco Murray in 2014 and Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.
The Browns made Kevin Zeitler the highest-paid guard in the league during free agency, signing him to a five-year, $60 million contract with $31.5 million in guarantees. It’s a good bet that Martin will challenge for that distinction.
“At some point here we’ll direct our attention to Zack and see kind of how he’d like to proceed,” Jones said. “But yeah we’ve been playing with these numbers, and when you’re dealing with top players like Zack, usually these things aren’t that difficult if everybody’s got some form of reasonability.”
As for Martin, he’s content to let the process play out.
“I love being a Cowboy, but I’m going to let my agents and them handle that,” he said. “If the time comes, they’ll tell me it’s the right time to do something.”