Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys officially pick up Zack Martin’s fifth-year option

The Dallas Cowboys have picked up the fifth-year option on right guard Zack Martin’s rookie contract, ensuring Martin is with the team through at least the 2018 season.

The Cowboys had until May 3 to pick up the option that will pay Martin about $9.3 million in 2018.

This was a formality. Executive Vice President Stephen Jones said the team would do as much at the Senior Bowl in January.

“I don’t know if he’s good enough,” Jones said, laughing, when asked about it months ago. “Yes, yes. Obviously we’ve worked hard to keep this line in tact and our goal is for Zack to be a Cowboy for his career. A big priority for us is to keep Zack around.”

The Cowboys will explore a long-term deal with Martin during training camp this summer, similar timing to when they signed left tackle Tyron Smith (2014) and center Travis Frederick (2016) to deals.

Martin has been everything the Cowboys could have hoped for when they used their first-round pick on him in 2014. He has developed into arguably the best guard in the league, being named to the Pro Bowl each of his three seasons and making first-team All-Pro in two of them (2014 and 2016). He was a second-team All-Pro in 2015.

Martin committed just two penalties and gave up two sacks last season. For his career, he has allowed six sacks and been flagged 13 times.

Martin should be in line for a nice payday.

McDowell visit

Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell is visiting The Star in Frisco this week, according to sources.

McDowell, projected as a first-round choice, likely plays strongside defensive end after playing both inside and outside in college. He had 7.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss in his three seasons.

McDowell is one of several defensive linemen among the Cowboys’ 30 national visitors. Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, Michigan’s Taco Charlton, Missouri’s Charles Harris, Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt and UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley also visited.

The Cowboys also invited most of the top cornerback prospects, including USC’s Adoree Jackson, UCLA’s Fabian Moreau, Florida’s Quincy Wilson and Teez Tabor, Washington’s Kevin King, LSU’s Tre’Davious White, Ohio State’s Gareon Conley, and Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie.

Connecticut’s Obi Melifonwu was among the safeties to visit.

The Cowboys expect to use most of their seven draft choices on defensive help, which is why only two offensive players were among their 30 national visitors.

Only twice in the past 12 years has the Cowboys’ top choice not taken a pre-draft visit: DeMarcus Ware, a first-round choice in 2005, and Morris Claiborne, a first-rounder in 2012.

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