That distinction should not last very long.
In fact, it should not last through the weekend.
For the past two offseasons, the Dallas Cowboys have said signing Zack Martin to a long-term deal is their top priority. They did not get a deal done with Martin last summer during training camp and he is now set to play out his fifth-year option at $9.3 million.
The Cowboys have hope they can sign Martin to a deal quickly. They are willing to make him the highest-paid guard in the history of the NFL. Martin doesn’t want to go anywhere else.
It doesn’t need to be this difficult.
A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Norwell’s deal is for five years and $66.5 million and includes $30 million fully guaranteed.
That’s a $13.3 million average salary. That’s more than the average Tyron Smith gets as the Cowboys’ left tackle. Would Smith be upset if Martin got more per year than he did? No. He should want his teammate to get all he can get when he can get it.
Martin has been everything the Cowboys could have dreamed since they selected him with the No. 14 pick in 2014. Remember all of the Johnny Manziel nonsense at the time of the draft? Martin has made the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons. He has made first- or second-team All Pro in all four of his seasons. He has not missed a game in his four seasons. He has hardly even missed a practice as well.
The price will only go up for Martin. A year ago Kevin Zeitler signed a free-agent deal with the Cleveland Browns worth $12 million annually. Norwell’s deal tops that, but the guarantee is a little less. The Cowboys can surpass Norwell’s average per year and Zeitler’s guarantee and still be in good shape against the cap in 2018 and beyond.
And Martin would want to get a deal done sooner rather than later just because of the injury risk he is taking. While he has not missed a game due to injury, he did have surgery in the offseason on his elbow, and careers don’t last very long. Would he want to risk another 16 games -- or more -- only to potentially face the franchise tag next March?
The Cowboys want to draft and develop and keep their own.
Martin is the perfect example of that, the same way Jason Witten was the perfect example back in 2006 when the 10-time Pro Bowl tight end signed his first extension with the team.
The first few days of free agency rarely go well for the Cowboys. While other teams make huge deals, the Cowboys sit back, although they were in on wide receiver Sammy Watkins. They just weren’t going to go into the $16 million per year deep end for Watkins.
The Cowboys made their splash move last week when they gave DeMarcus Lawrence the $17.143 million franchise tag.
They can make another splash move by signing Martin to the biggest deal ever given to a guard.
Again, it shouldn’t be this hard.