Zack Martin

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/13/21

Today’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

Las Vegas Raiders

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Cowboys Re-Sign Bryan Anger

The Cowboys have re-signed Bryan Anger, per a club announcement. Anger was dropped as a part of the Cowboys’ final cuts but they did not sign another punter to replace him.

Anger spent 2019 and 2020 with the Texans, where he cleared 46 yards per punt in each campaign. In March, Houston cleared his contract from the books to save $2MM against the cap. Anger has also spent time with the Buccaneers and Jaguars, but he’s perhaps best known for being a punter that was drafted in the third round. The Cowboys inked him to a one-year deal in April, putting him in competition with Hunter Niswander for the job.

The Cowboys won’t have to make any additional cuts since right guard Zack Martin and offensive lineman Brandon Knight recently landed on the COVID-19 reserve list.

Cowboys’ Zack Martin Placed On COVID List

Cowboys guard Zack Martin has been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, per a club announcement. That means Martin is a no-go for Thursday night’s season opener against the Buccaneers and possibly longer, depending on when he clears protocol.

[RELATED: Cowboys Out On Cam Newton]

Scores of players were sidelined by positive tests last year, but Martin is the first NFL player to be ruled out of a game in 2021. If Martin is vaccinated, he could be eligible to return after two negative test results. However, if he’s not vaccinated, he will be required to keep his distance for a minimum of ten days.

Martin, a six-time Pro Bowler, missed six regular season games last year with a calf injury. The Cowboys are counting on his availability, especially with La’el Collins‘ early season status in limbo. Without Martin, the Cowboys will likely slot Connor McGovern into the starting lineup. Fortunately, they’ll have Connor Williams on the opposite side — he was just recently cleared from his own COVID-19 list stint.

In other Cowboys news, it doesn’t sound like Cam Newton will be with Dallas on Thursday either. Despite speculation to the contrary, they’re not going to pursue the recently released Patriots quarterback. Ditto for the Washington Football Team — they’re ready to roll with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Taylor Heinicke, and Kyle Allen.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Restructures: Panthers, Cowboys, Giants, Saints, Eagles, Steelers

It’s that time of year when teams are frantically maneuvering ahead of free agency. Due to the cap falling because of COVID-19, things are even more hectic than ever. We’ve seen a whole bunch of contract restructures come in, and there will be a whole lot more. Let’s catch you up on the latest batch and their financial implications:

  • The Panthers restructured Christian McCaffrey‘s contract recently, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network tweets. They converted $7MM of his $8MM base salary into a signing bonus, which freed up about $5.6MM in cap space for 2021. Almost a year ago McCaffrey signed his record-breaking extension that has him locked up through the 2025 season.
  • The Cowboys have had a busy week with Dak Prescott‘s massive extension now in the books, and they made a trio of moves to help clear some space. Dallas restructured the deals of Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, and La’el Collins, a source told Todd Archer of ESPN.com. The reworking of the three offensive linemen’s contracts cleared up about $17MM in cap space for Jerry Jones. As Archer notes, these moves have now gotten Dallas under the cap for 2021.
  • The Giants just cut top offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler as they look to clear cap space to keep guys like defensive linemen Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson. The Zeitler release isn’t the only shuffling they’re doing, as they also restructured the contract of tight end Levine Toilolo, and Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweeted the details. Rather than a procedural restructure like you see with star players, Toilolo actually took a pay-cut to stay with the team. He had been scheduled to make $2.95MM this year but agreed to reduce that to $1.6MM, saving the Giants north of $1MM against the cap.
  • We’ve got four other restructures to pass along, courtesy of this tweet from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The Saints restructured the deals of safety Malcolm Jenkins to save $3.4MM and offensive lineman Andrus Peat to save $6MM. New Orleans has the worst cap situation in the league, and they desperately needed moves like this to do things like franchise tag safety Marcus Williams.
  • The Eagles saved $2.4MM by reworking the deal of offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo. Philly is right up there with New Orleans in terms of bad cap situations, so GM Howie Roseman is likely far from done here.
  • The Steelers saved $880K by adjusting fullback Derek Watt‘s contract. Not exactly front page news here, but it should shore up Watt’s spot on the 2021 roster. T.J. and J.J.’s brother signed a three-year, $9.75MM pact last offseason.

Cowboys Activate G Zack Martin From IR

Having re-emerged from 3-9 to remain in contention for the NFC East title, the Cowboys could have their perennial All-Pro guard back if they make the playoffs.

The team activated Zack Martin off IR on Saturday, after reopening his 21-day activation window earlier this week. But the seventh-year standout is not yet ready to return. Martin will not travel with the Cowboys for their Week 17 game against the Giants, but Jerry Jones said a postseason return is in play.

In the future, we could push it and it would give us a dramatic upgrade and it really is the reason for a real optimistic thought about what happens if we could get in the playoffs,” Jones said during an interview with 105.3 The Fan (via the Dallas Morning News). “It’s a real, valid, tangible thing to hang your hat on.”

Martin has missed the past four games with a calf injury, one that was set to end his season. But the Cowboys will carry the six-time Pro Bowler on their active roster for Week 17 and perhaps beyond. A four-time first-team All-Pro, Martin has seen time at tackle this season as well. The Cowboys are already down Tyron Smith and La’el Collins for the season, but Martin’s return would be an obvious boon for their chances at a playoff upset — if they are to qualify.

The team has won three straight games to move into this position. A Cowboys win over the Giants and an Eagles win over Washington would secure Dallas an unlikely NFC East title.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys’ Zack Martin Done For Year

The Cowboys have placed guard Zack Martin on injured reserve with a calf injury. The All-Pro guard must be shelved for at least three games and this could very well mark the end of his season. 

In the dreadful NFC East, the playoffs are still possible for the 3-8 Cowboys. Their late-November loss to the Washington Football Team didn’t help matters, but they could still theoretically leapfrog the first-place Giants (5-7) and the rest of the division. They’ll have their work cut out for them on Tuesday night against the Ravens, when undrafted lineman Terence Steele is expected to start in his place.

Martin has done his best work on the interior, but Steele’s poor play forced the Cowboys to reshuffle the front five a few weeks back. Before they made the swap on Nov. 22, Steele ranked as the worst offensive tackle out of 78 qualified players this season, per Pro Football Focus’ metrics.

The Cowboys will also be without cornerback Anthony Brown and safety Donovan Wilson as they look to upset Baltimore. A loss — even in the NFC East — would almost certainly take them out of the postseason conversation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys’ Zack Martin, Cam Erving To Miss Time

More bad news for the 3-8 Cowboys. On Friday, head coach Mike McCarthy announced that offensive linemen Zack Martin (calf) and Cam Erving (knee) will miss multiple weeks. 

Both players were injured during the Cowboys’ blowout loss to the Washington Football Team on Thursday. Martin has been playing through the calf injury for weeks and aggravated it while on the field. Erving, meanwhile, was forced out on the Cowboys’ first drive of the game.

Even in the woeful NFC East, the Cowboys aren’t likely to see the playoffs this year. Even if the linemen can return before the year is through, the Cowboys might keep them off the field as a precaution. Terence Steele took over for Martin while Brandon Knight subbed in for Erving — they’ll likely be first-string for the time being.

On paper, the Cowboys were set to return one of the league’s very best offensive lines. Unfortunately, injuries to left tackle Tyron Smith, right tackle La’el Collins, and center Tyler Biadasz have decimated the unit. Biadasz may come off of IR in a few weeks but, similar to Martin and Erving, the Cowboys will have to weigh the risk vs. the limited reward.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys To Start Zack Martin At RT

The Cowboys’ offensive line has been hit hard by injury this year, which is one of the many reasons why the team has limped to a 2-7 start. Fans and pundits alike have called for Dallas to kick stud right guard Zack Martin out to right tackle to help stabilize the unit, and head coach Mike McCarthy has finally seen the light.

As Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network was first to report, Martin will start at RT today for the Cowboys’ matchup with the Vikings (Twitter link). That will force rookie Terence Steele, who has started all nine games for the club this year, to the bench. Though it might be expected for a first-year UDFA, Steele has appeared to be in over his head, and Pro Football Focus ranks him as the worst offensive tackle out of 78 qualified players this season.

So, as Jon Machota of The Athletic tweets, the team will line up Cameron Erving at LT, Connor Williams at LG, Joe Looney at C, and Connor McGovern at RG. This will mark McGovern’s second start of his career.

Despite the Cowboys’ poor record, the club still has a shot to win the incredible-as-it-is-inept NFC East. Backup QB Andy Dalton, who has dealt with a concussion and COVID-19 in the past few weeks, will return to the field this afternoon in a must-win contest, and McCarthy — three weeks after dismissing a Martin move to RT as “fantasy football nonsense” (Twitter link via Machota) — will shake up Dalton’s protection.

As Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News observes, this will be the first time since December 2013 — Martin’s senior season at Notre Dame — that Martin will get a start at tackle (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Activate Sean Lee, Joe Looney

Ben DiNucci will have more help up front than he did upon being thrust into action last week. In addition to Zack Martin returning from concussion protocol, Joe Looney is back on the Cowboys’ active roster.

The Cowboys activated Looney and Sean Lee from IR Saturday, though ESPN.com’s Todd Archer notes rookie Tyler Biadasz is expected to make another start at center. Looney has missed the past three games because of an MCL injury.

Dallas used Looney as its full-time starter in 2018, when Travis Frederick missed the season, and re-signed him this offseason after Frederick retired. Looney started the team’s first four games before his knee injury. He went down on the first play of the Cowboys’ Week 4 loss to the Browns. Pro Football Focus grades his 2020 work better than Biadasz’s thus far, with the latter ranking near the bottom of the advanced metrics site’s center hierarchy.

Lee will make his 2020 debut. The Cowboys placed the veteran linebacker on IR prior to the season starting, carrying him onto their 53-man roster so they could activate him at some point. Lee underwent pelvis surgery, forcing his latest injury-induced absence. The Cowboys re-signed Lee on a one-year, $4.5MM deal this offseason. This will be as healthy as Dallas’ linebackers have been all season, with Leighton Vander Esch also now back after missing early-season games.

The Cowboys also promoted cornerback Saivion Smith from their practice squad. Smith will help a cornerback corps that will be without Chidobe Awuzie. The Cowboys enter Week 8 ranking 30th in defensive DVOA. They jettisoned three veterans — Everson Griffen, Dontari Poe and Daryl Worley — this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Notes: Coaches, Knight, Martin

After getting blown out by the Cardinals last night and falling to 2-4, it sounds like some of the players are starting to point fingers at the coaching staff. Jane Slater of NFL Network tweets that “discontent is leaking out” of the Cowboys locker room, with one player stating that the coaches “just aren’t good at their jobs”

“Totally unprepared,” another player said of the coaching staff. “They don’t teach. They don’t have any sense of adjusting on the fly.”

Meanwhile, head coach Mike McCarthy indicated to reporters that instead of leaking these qualms to the media, he’d rather keep those types of conversations in house.

“I just really go back to my first meeting with the football team. I’ve always stated that…it’s important to handle things as men,” McCarthy said (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). “I mean, if you do have something to say publicly that is of most important, I think it’s important to say it to the individual, or particularly in a group dynamic setting, especially in the game of football, especially for the Dallas Cowboys. I mean, that’s all part of the development our program, of the system that we’ve got going here. I think that’s just part of our flight right now. We don’t like the way we played last night. We had some areas that we struggled strong in. It’s definitely not what we’re looking for.”

Some more notes out of Dallas:

  • McCarthy also told reporters that left tackle Brandon Knight suffered a knee injury and underwent surgery (via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News on Twitter). The lineman is expected to miss the next few games. Knight found himself with a starting gig following a season-ending injury to Tyron Smith, and he’s started four of the Cowboys’ six games. While a replacement hasn’t been named, Gehlken notes that Cameron Erving, who is sitting on IR, could be an option.
  • ESPN’s Todd Archer tweets that Zack Martin suffered a concussion and is questionable for Sunday. The team isn’t expected to receive any clarity on the veteran until the end of the week. Martin has only missed a pair of regular season games since entering the league as a first-round pick in 2014.
  • McCarthy doesn’t believe his team has improved much through the first six weeks of the season. “Have we improved?” McCarthy asked (via Gehlken on Twitter). “From an analytical standpoint, when I look at trend lines and some of the things that we’re focused on…. no, our trend line is not pointing in the right direction” Sorry, Cowboys fans.