*INDIANAPOLIS – *The standard cliché is that the NFL’s multitude of negotiations begin at the NFL Combine.
More often than not, those back room conversations are never made public – that’s part of the usefulness of negotiating after all. But in the case of Zack Martin, one of the Cowboys’ most valuable assets, an exception can be made.
“We do have a planned meeting with Tom,” said Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones on Tuesday.
That would be Tom Condon, Martin’s agent and the man tasked with securing a long-term contract for the All-Pro guard. Extending Martin’s contract has long been on the Cowboys’ agenda, as he has established himself as one of the best offensive linemen in the league since being drafted 16th overall back in 2014.
The Cowboys were optimistic they could extend Martin last summer during training camp, as they did with Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick in previous years. Without a deal, those talks broke off after the start of the regular season.
The front office has never wavered in its confidence about locking Martin up for the foreseeable future – but there’s no denying that it’s going to require a sizable sum of money.
“I’m always optimistic. Usually when we want to get something done we can figure it out,” Jones said. “But it takes two to tango at the end of the day. Certainly he’s a great player, and he’s a guy we want to have a Cowboy uniform on for the rest of his career if we can do that. But we’ve got some work to do.”
For the time being, Martin is set to play the 2018 season on the fifth-year club option that is built into his rookie contract. The option allows the Cowboys to keep control of the Pro Bowler on a one-year salary of roughly $9 million.
Apart from the peace of mind of securing the future of one of their best players, signing Martin long-term would likely also lower his number on the salary cap.
When that might happen is anyone’s guess. But to hear it from the Cowboys, those talks will begin again this week.