NFL free agency: Andrew Norwells deal sets the market for a Zack Martin extension

NFL free agency: Andrew Norwell\s deal sets the market for a Zack Martin extension
Cowboys Zack Martin Benefiting From Other Guard Contracts
Dallas and Martin tried to do this last year but could never reach an agreement. At the time, the biggest guard contract in the league was the Kevin Zeitler deal. He signed a five-year, $60 million deal with the Cleveland Browns. Zeitlers deal averaged $12 million a year.

Now with 2018 free agency happening, we have a new leader in the clubhouse for top-paid guard in the league – Andrew Norwell, soon to be a Jacksonville Jaguar.

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In return, Norwell gets the biggest deal for an interior lineman in league history. His five-year, $66.5 million pact reportedly fully guarantees $30 million, which would be a hefty increase on the record set last offseason, when Kevin Zeitler got a five-year, $60 million deal with $23 million guaranteed from the Browns. Its a reflection on how good Norwells 2017 campaign was, given that the Panthers tendered him at a second-round level last season as a restricted free agent and no team made a run at him.

Norwells deal averages $13.3 million a year, and thats a number Martins representation is likely going to try and top in negotiations with the Cowboys. Obviously $13.3 million is more than Martins current cap hit of $9.3 million, but the Cowboys will try to structure a deal that reduces the hit in the first year and then sets it up for restructures in the following years.

Andrew Norwells contract should set floor for Zack Martins Cowboy deal

BTBs Joseph.Hatz took a shot at predicting a deal for Martin last offseason, even before Norwells deal, that looked like this:

It would seem at the very least that Martin will get a contract averaging somewhere in the $12.5-$13 million per year range, with at least about $30 million guaranteed. With that said, dont be surprised if he ends up getting over $13 million per year, and perhaps even closer to $14 million, along with $35-$40 million guaranteed.

To be blunt, there is absolutely no comparison between a player like Martin and Zeitler, and I wouldnt blame Martin and his agent if they were to take an offer of only a marginal increase over the Zeitler deal as somewhat of a slap in the face.

Im estimating that sometime over the next six months Martin will receive a five-year, $68 million extension with $35 million guaranteed. That is left tackle money in this day and age, but given the Zeitler contract and how much more Martin has accomplished than him, I think this is the range the Cowboys will have to be in to finalize a deal.

That would put Martin at an average of $13.6 million. But the Norwell deal may push that number even higher.

Our old friend KD suggests an even bigger deal this morning, with a longer term because the Cowboys signed Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick to very long term deals.

Because it says seven years, the initial reports may get things wrong and read it as a $16.3 million per-year deal, but its not. It is actually an eight-year total deal, so the average annual value will be $14.25 million.

Thats a sizable difference between what Norwell just made, setting the bar for the position for the positions best player.

We anticipate a relatively low signing bonus and first-year base salary, keeping the first year cap hit low.

The Cowboys now have the parameters of what it will take to make Zack Martin the highest-paid guard in the league. At some point this offseason, they will have to go ahead and make a deal. They need to bring down Martins cap number in 2018, and they also need to lock him up long-term, or else they will be resorting to placing franchise tags on him.

At some point this offseason, Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin is expected to get a long-term contract with the team. As other NFL guards are getting paid this week, the likely value of Martins deal is starting to become clearer.

Early this morning, the bar got set pretty high by free agent Andrew Norwell and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Former Panthers G Andrew Norwell intends to sign with the Jaguars on a 5-year deal for $66.5 million, including $30M fully guaranteed, source tells ESPN. He is going to become NFLs highest paid guard – $13.3 million average.

Its not just Cowboys writers who are paying attention to this market. Even Schefty couldnt resist making a connection between Norwells new deal and the negotiations between Dallas and their own star guard.

Few people any happier this morning than Cowboys guard Zack Martin….hes going to get paid.

Norwell, who is about a year younger than Martin, was a first-team All-Pro last season. Hes never been voted the Pro Bowl, though, while Zack has been every year since he was a rookie in 2014.

This isnt bad news, or even unexpected, from the teams standpoint. They already know that they will have to make Zack the highest-paid guard in the game. Hes more than earned it.

Until that deal is reached, Martin is still secure as the Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal. That provision, which is exclusive to first-round picks, has set Zacks 2018 cap hit at $9.3 million.

The good news for the cap-strapped Cowboys is that once they get Martin on a long-term deal, that cap number will actually go down. They are expected to immediately restructure the first year of the deal, as they did in 2016 with Travis Frederick, and could free up $6-7 million in cap dollars from where he is now on the one-year option contract.

The question now is matter of when, not if, Dallas and Zack Martin finalize his new contract. Andrew Norwells deal likely sets the bar; he was generally considered the top guard in the free agent market.

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