Dallas Cowboys right guard Zack Martin is a generational talent. The eight-time Pro Bowler and six-time first-team All-Pro — tied for the third-most all-time for a guard in league history railing only the seven earned by a couple of Hall of Famers in Randall McDaniel and John Hannah — hadn’t participated in the Cowboys’ training camp because of a contract dispute around his value in relation to his position’s around the NFL.
Martin was holding out of camp with two years left on his six-year, $84 million contract he signed back in 2018. He was slated to earn base salaries of $1.7 million and $13 million in addition to signing bonus payments of $9.34 million in each season, according to OverTheCap.com.
Now, his holdout is over, thanks to a deal that will compensate Martin $18 million in each of the next two seasons, all of which is fully guaranteed. He will take home an extra $8.5 million over the next two seasons, according to ESPN. That increase closes the gap between his average annual salary on his previous deal, $14 million, and the top of the market — Atlanta Falcons offensive guard Chris Lindstrom’s five-year, $105.2 million contract that averages $20.5 million a season. Once the news broke of Martin’s return to training camp after his renegotiated deal was complete, his offensive coaches celebrated like they won the lottery.
“It was great to get him back,” Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday. “When we got the news in the offensive staff meeting yesterday, the room erupted. There were a lot of high fives and hugs all day and night yesterday once he got in. I think that shows you what he means to us and our football team, especially the offense. It is a business, part of our industry, but we’re about connecting and doing what we need to do to win, and he’s a big part of that.”
Zack is BACK…tell a friend! ⭐️#DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/iChMlv2EfT
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) August 15, 2023
Not only is Martin a superstar on the field — his six First-Team All-Pro selections since entering the league in 2014 are the second most in that span behind future Hall of Famer and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s seven — but the team captain is one of McCarthy’s favorite lead-by-example presences in the Cowboys locker room.
“So many ways on and off the field,” McCarthy said when asked how Martin makes his teammates better. “Look at the way he trains and prepares. His training is top notch. He’s super consistent and humble. He pays it forward and helps young guys. Has excellent relationships throughout the building. Other than that, when he puts his hand in the ground, he’s really good. He does everything right. … When you go through the spring and you install the runs and protections, a very high percentage of the time he’s a part of that teaching reel,” McCarthy said. “Obviously his reputation in the locker room and the leadership council, all of those things. It’s very beneficial for his teammates [for Martin to be in camp], especially for the younger guys.”
Since the 32-year-old missed the first few weeks of camp, he won’t be jumping into any 11-on-11 action in practice this week. However, the Silver and Blue plan to have him ready to butt heads with defensive linemen again as early as next week.
“The goal for Zack is to ramp him up through individual work,” McCarthy said. “I think you can understand he’s been training, so he just wants to get in his pads and get moving. That’s where we will start today and see how that goes. Maybe we’ll do more tomorrow. We’re going to be smart with him. … He’s just excited to get everything buttoned up this week, and then get into some live drills next week.”