Here's Why the Cowboys Are in Serious Trouble With Zack Martin's Holdout Threat

Zack Martin's holdout threat puts the Cowboys in an even more difficult position than you might think,
Zack Martin's holdout threat puts the Cowboys in an even more difficult position than you might think,
Zack Martin's holdout threat puts the Cowboys in an even more difficult position than you might think, / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It turns out the Dallas Cowboys are not in the clear from holdouts, even with Tony Pollard looking like he'll play on the franchise tag. And this new potential holdout is even worse than fans would have predicted.

Adam Schefter reported on Wednesday morning that it's All-Pro guard and team captain Zack Martin who is considering holding out due to unhappiness with his contract. The fact Martin may hold out isn't what's so concerning — it's that there may not be much the team can realistically do about it.

Zack Martin Cowboys Holdout Rumors

Schefter's report makes it abundantly clear exactly why Martin is considering a holdout, quoting him as saying he feels "woefully underpaid relative to the market.” And it's not only his current contract that's getting to him, but the team's unwillingness to negotiate.

But Martin already carries the third-highest cap hit on the team in 2023, behind only Dak Prescott and DeMarcus Lawrence. And while the Cowboys have the sixth-most cap space in the NFL at the moment, that's not a resource they can afford to squander with a massive list of crucial starters set to hit free agency.

It’s easy to have cap space when Stephon Gilmore is the NFL’s 12th-highest paid corner and Trevon Diggs is just 30th. It's easy to have cap space when Tyron Smith is the league's 26th-highest paid tackle. It's easy to have cap space when you're still a year out from having to extend your quarterback in a market that reaches new heights every season.

Dallas is going to have to make some very tough decisions with contract extensions, but the hope was that these decisions wouldn't have to be made until the offseason. The 'Boys are legitimate Super Bowl contenders with this roster, ranking No. 3 in the odds to win the NFC.

Of course, this is part of where Martin gets the leverage to hold out. This team is built to win now, and Martin is an absolutely vital piece of that plan. The Cowboys' offense needs him, and he knows it.

Still, that doesn't make this any less disappointing for fans. Yes, he's probably underpaid this season (No. 8 among guards), but his pay jumps significantly in 2024 (the final year of his current contract) anyway.

And he's a team captain. Even if he doesn't end up holding out, the threat is now public, and his teammates are seeing that he's willing to leave them hanging if he doesn't get what he thinks (and admittedly does) deserve from the team. Some players will understand and support Martin going after what he's worth, but some aren't going to view this in such a positive light, and that can cause serious friction in the locker room.

We're still over a month out from the start of the season, so it's not time to hit the panic button just yet. But with so many players due for big paydays next offseason it's going to prove incredibly difficult for the Cowboys to keep Martin happy without putting themselves in serious trouble next offseason.

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