Zack Martin To Consider Retirement After 2024 Season

While Micah Parsons might be the Cowboys’ most talented player, Zack Martin is easily the most accomplished performer on Dallas’ roster. A surefire future Hall of Famer, Martin has been one of the NFL’s top guards since being a 2014 first-round pick.

Year 10 brought an interesting chapter for Martin. The decorated blocker held out and saw his tactic produce a solid reward, with the Cowboys greenlighting a raise and a substantial guarantee bump. Martin rewarded the club with a seventh first-team All-Pro season. One year remains on Martin’s deal, and the Canton-bound guard is unsure he will follow Tyron Smith in pursuing another contract. Martin said he will consider retirement following the 2024 campaign.

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I’m not saying 100%, but I think it’s definitely in the realm of possibilities,” Martin said, via the Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken, of the possibility 2024 is his last season. “And that’s one thing I don’t want to do. For myself, I don’t want to be thinking, ‘Oh, this is it. This is it.’ I want to stay in the moment, and I want to play the best that I can play at this point and be the best right guard this team needs on a weekly basis. And then after the season, we’ll figure out what’s going on.”

Despite coming into the NFL two years after Smith, the acclaimed right guard is a month older than his longtime teammate. Drafted at 23, Martin will turn 34 in November. Martin signed a six-year, $84MM extension before the 2018 season. The extension ties the cornerstone lineman to the Cowboys for seven years. While the team revised Martin’s deal to end his holdout last year, the parameters of the 2018 agreement still shape his path to free agency.

Martin remaining at or close to his All-Pro form would, even at 34, make him an attractive free agent — particularly for contending teams — in 2025. Guards rarely receive the franchise tag, due to all O-linemen being under one umbrella on the tag, and the Cowboys’ contract situation has produced complications to the point a 2025 tag for anyone might not be in the cards. The team has Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb deals to complete, with a monster Parsons payday likely coming next year.

Restructures also stand to make matters difficult for the Cowboys regarding Martin, as a $26.5MM dead money hit would come to pass if he is not re-signed before the start of the 2025 league year. As the Tom Brady Buccaneers contract showed, a retirement would also stick the Cowboys with that void years-driven bill.

ESPN’s run block win rate metric slotted Martin fifth last season, though his 18th-place Pro Football Focus finish marked a career-low ranking. The 2014 first-round pick said his holdout, along with nagging injuries, hindered him — to a degree, as an All-Pro nod still commenced — in 2023. That said, Martin is in rare territory among guards. Even counting pre-merger players, Martin’s seventh first-team All-Pro selection tied him for first all-time at the position — with Hall of Famers John Hannah and Randall McDaniel.

The Cowboys did not re-sign Tyron Smith and, after the Tyler Guyton first-round choice, are expected to keep All-Pro Tyler Smith at left guard. As the team breaks in a new center post-Tyler Biadasz, Martin remains the team’s anchor piece up front. The Cowboys will count on the Notre Dame product again in 2024, but with his contract expiring and retirement under consideration, the All-Decade-teamer’s future is uncertain beyond the upcoming season.

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