Two-fifths of the stalwart Dallas Cowboys offensive line have now re-done their deals.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that Cowboys All-Pro right guard Zack Martin agreed to restructure his contract, creating $8 million in salary-cap space.
This comes 18 days after Dallas similarly altered Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith’s $97.6 million pact. The club converted $8.9 million of Smith’s 2020 base salary into a signing bonus, freeing roughly $6.6 million.
That, the scuttlebutt goes, reportedly was done with quarterback Dak Prescott — an unrestricted free agent next offseason — in mind.
“The converting of $8.9 million of base salary into signing bonus can be construed as offering some faith in the career of Tyron Smith. And it can be a in-case-of-emergency weapon now. But most of all, it’s for Dak Prescott … to the Dallas Cowboys a very justifiable reason to ‘kick a little can,'” Mike Fisher of Sports Illustrated reported last month.
Fisher echoed this line of thinking Wednesday.
“And now Dallas has more “for Dak Prescott,” courtesy of another accounting move,” he wrote.
The Dallas Morning News’ David Moore reported at the time of Smith’s restructure the Cowboys’ plan is to “roll space into next season” rather than prioritize “in-season management,” as ESPN’s Field Yates alluded to. The team never says never when it comes to intriguing free agents — ask Everson Griffen — though they appear deadset on squirreling away the carryover money, not splurge on someone like Earl Thomas.
The Cowboys had $7.892 million in cap room, per Spotrac.com, prior to Martin’s restructuring.
Martin, 30 (in November), has started 94 of a possible 96 games for the Cowboys since entering the NFL as a 2014 first-round draft pick. He made all 16 appearances last season, earning his sixth-straight Pro Bowl nod and fourth-career first-team All-Pro selection. Martin inked a six-year, $84 million contract extension in 2018, which included $40 million guaranteed and made him then the sport’s highest-paid guard.
Follow the Heavy on Cowboys Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Prescott Expected to Garner $40M Annually on 2021 Deal
This, the opinion of CBS Sports NFL salary cap expert and former agent Joel Corry, who explained Saturday that Prescott’s future price tag skyrocketed in the wake of Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson’s four-year, $156 million extension.
“Unless Prescott has a serious regression this season, he should get to the $40M per year mark if he signs a long term deal with the Cowboys in 2021,” Corry tweeted.
Watson, who received $111 million guaranteed ($73.7 million guaranteed at signing), becomes the league’s second-highest-paid signal-caller behind Kansas City’s reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes, who, of course, landed a record-setting $503 million contract earlier this offseason.
“Deshaun Watson’s contract extension confirms for Dak Prescott that he has been right in insisting on a 4 year deal,” Corry tweeted.
Prescott and the Cowboys staged dragged-out negotiations over the last 10 months that failed to result in an agreement before the July 15 deadline. And, indeed, Prescott’s reluctance to ink a five-year commitment, paired with his supposed desire to cross the $40 million annual barrier, torpedoed the talks.
Rather than tie himself to the team longer than he prefers, the two-time Pro Bowl passer opted to play the 2020 campaign on his fully-guaranteed $31.4 million franchise tag. Dak holds all the cards: he’s either tagged again in 2021 at a cost of $37.7 million or, as an unrestricted free agent, nets his sought-after windfall — be it from the Cowboys or another suitor.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL