While free agency officially begins in March, roster turnover isn't too far away. The Cowboys will indeed add and presumably release players, along with letting some go without a new contract.
However, the majority of the 2018 roster is already in place. In the coming weeks, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will preview those players, analyzing where they've been and where they're going.
Today, we continue the series with guard Zack Martin.
Views of #70 Guard Zack Martin from the 2017-18 Regular Season.
What's Been Good:
What hasn't been good for Zack Martin, exactly? From the time he was drafted No. 16 overall back in 2014, it has been a steady climb toward the top of the sport. Martin stepped into the right guard spot as a rookie and has been dominant from the first rep. He was named first-team All-Pro for the third time in four years in 2017, and he was named to his fourth-straight Pro Bowl – making him a Pro Bowler during every season of his NFL career. Martin has been one of the best players on this team throughout his time in Dallas, and that's why he's in line to be the best-paid guard in the NFL.
What's Been Bad:
It sure would be nice if the Cowboys had managed to get Martin's deal done ahead of his fourth season, the way they did with Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick. It's not the end of the world, because the fifth-year option on Martin's rookie deal keeps him under contract through 2018. But that option is slated to cost the Cowboys roughly $9 million, which is likely much more than he'd cost on the salary cup on a long-term deal. It's not going to be easy, because Martin is in position to command top dollar for his services. But the sooner the Cowboys can lock him into a long-term deal, the better.
It's so much fun to watch Martin's jaw-dropping athleticism for a guy his size. For instance, he once again made a fantastic block on screen pass that Ezekiel Elliott took to the house. With the Cowboys facing 1st-and-10 from their own 28 against San Francisco, Dak Prescott executed a double play fake, then dumped the screen pass off to Elliott. The 49ers' linebackers completely bit on the play action, which meant that defensive back Jimmie Ward was the only guy in position to stop the play. With alarming ease, Martin sprinted over from his right guard position and squared up on him out in space. Martin smacked Ward not once, but twice, in helping Elliott reach the second level. The rest of it was simply speed, as the running back outpaced the San Francisco secondary to the end zone.
It's all a matter of when the Cowboys will sign Martin to an extension – not to mention how long the deal will last, and how much money it will cost. The All-Pro guard is easily one of this team's five best players, and locking him up would secure the majority of the Cowboys' talented offensive line for at least the next three or four years. It would be great for the team's finances if a deal was reached soon, but the Cowboys can keep Martin for quite a while – one way or another. The fifth-year option guarantees that Martin is under contract for 2018. If for some reason there's still no deal in 2019, he could then be franchised. Strictly speaking, he could be franchised multiple times. So the Cowboys can keep Martin in Dallas past 2020, no questions asked. But again, it would be easier for everyone if a deal could be reached as quickly as possible.
- I had questions before the season how things would transpire with Zack Martin and La'el Collins working together for the first time.
- Martin and Doug Free had developed into iron clad combination that not only protected the front side of Tony Romo and Dak Prescott but was a reliable group to run the football behind.
- As the season progressed the combination of Martin and Collins were showing similar signs to what we had observed with Free at tackle.
- Martin not only elevated his game but brought Collins along with him.
- With Paul Alexander as the new offensive line coach, I will expect that we will see more of Zack Martin playing in space where he proved to function with outstanding ease.