FRISCO, Texas – The business side of the NFL may have reared its head for one of the Cowboys' best players.
As the Cowboys work into their first week of OTAs, they may be without All-Pro guard Zack Martin, who was absent from his typical spot at right guard on Tuesday. It's unclear if Martin will be present on Wednesday – or if he intends to participate in any of the voluntary offseason practices.
"He did not practice with the team yesterday, but he did his off the field stuff and he has been a part of the offseason program from the start," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "Obviously, there is a contract situation going on there -- the business of the NFL. We'll see how that gets resolved."
It will be strange if the Cowboys don't have Martin in the lineup in the coming weeks. He has been a fixture at practice since he was drafted in 2014, and he has never missed a game in his career. It shouldn't be surprising, though.
Martin is entering the final year of his rookie contract, having put together arguably the best resume in his draft class. He has been named an All-Pro and has been selected to the Pro Bowl during all four years of his career. It has been widely expected for more than a year that the Cowboys will make him the highest-paid guard in the NFL when the time comes.
Before he takes the field for offseason practices, perhaps Martin would prefer for that time to be now.
"We've had really good conversations about this, he and I have," Garrett said. "I know there's ongoing dialogue between his representatives and the Joneses about getting his contract done."
It's worth repeating that OTAs are voluntary. There is no penalty for missing them, and NFL players routinely stay off the practice field while they sort through contract negotiations. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones have also refrained from reporting to OTAs due to contract concerns. In 2015, Dez Bryant sat out of the Cowboys' entire offseason program while he sought a new contract.
In Martin's case, though, it'll be interesting to see where this goes. He has been present throughout the rest of the offseason program, going through individual workouts with teammates. As recently as last week, he said getting back into the routine had helped him take his mind off contract negotiations.
Asked about the possibility of an extension, he was optimistic.
"We'll see," he said. "Hopefully it gets done. We'll see where it goes."
At this juncture, it looks like it may keep Martin off the practice field. Time will tell how far that decisions extends. The Cowboys hold a mandatory minicamp from June 12-14, and Martin is subject to fines if he doesn't report.
But at least during these voluntary practices, the Cowboys may be without him.