The Dallas Cowboys are finally ready to show Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin the money, setting the stage for him to end his holdout and participate in the team’s mandatory three-day minicamp, which begins Tuesday at the team’s headquarters at The Star in Frisco.
Vice President Stephen Jones said as much at a private rookie fan luncheon on Monday.
“It’s awfully close,” said Jones when asked about Martin. “I hope he’ll be out at (minicamp).”
Per sources, the two sides are closing on an extension that would make him the highest paid guard in NFL history and the highest paid player on the Cowboys. The NFL Network said the deal will be for six years.
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Andrew Norwell of the Jacksonville Jaguars was previously the highest paid at his position with a five-year, $66.5 million deal, including $30 million.
Pro Bowl tackle Tyron Smith is currently the highest paid Cowboys player with an average salary of $12.2 million.
Martin, who was under contract for 2018 for $9.3 million in the final year of his rookie deal, has skipped OTAs the past three weeks in hopes of forcing the issue on a contract extension that the Cowboys have been promising him the past two off-seasons.
There was never a question that he deserved to get paid.
Martin has made the Pro Bowl every year since the Cowboys took the former Notre Dame star in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He has also been named first-team All-Pro twice and to the second team twice to establish himself as the best guard in the league and arguably the team’s best offensive lineman.
Martin has started all 64 games of his career and is considered a foundational piece for years to come.
His signing allows the Cowboys to keep their triumvirate of first-round picks and perennial Pro Bowls in Smith and center Travis Frederick together, opening holes for quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Both Smith and Frederick are signed through 2023.
Martin’s deal should lower his cap figure for 2018 and also pave the way for a possible deal for safety Earl Thomas if the Cowboys can finally acquire him in a trade from the Seattle Seahawks.
With Martin done, they now know how much money they have to work with for Thomas, who also wants a contract extension as part of any type of trade scenario.