Cowboys have hidden gem to replace Zack Martin in 2025 amid retirement buzz

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants
Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys are facing a number of distractions as they break for summer vacation before training camp in Oxnard next month. CeeDee Lamb and Dak Prescott's contracts are elephants in the room, and Micah Parsons invited some unnecessary backlash by revealing he and Mike Zimmer have barely spoke since Zimmer was hired as defensive coordinator three months ago.

Because of all that, Zack Martin's mini bombshell has glided under the radar. Essentially, Martin was noncommittal about playing next season when asked about his future this week at mandatory minicamp.

A free agent in 2025, Martin will turn 34 in November. He's entering his 11th season and has missed 10 of a possible 162 regular-season games in his career. That's unheard of durability for an offensive guard, though it's worth noting that eight of those missed games have occurred in the last four years.

This could be Martin's last dance with the Cowboys, which begs the question of whom would replace him at right guard if he retires? Passing the torch will be easier said than done, but second-year guard T.J. Bass could end up being the pick.

Cowboys have T.J. Bass waiting in the wings as possible Zack Martin replacement

There are a number of ways the Cowboys could replace Martin.

If they are pleased with the development of Brock Hoffman, they could start him at center and move 2024 third-round pick Cooper Beebe, who's projected to start at center this season, to guard, where he played extensively in college.

However, Beebe might prove to be a star at center. There's little chance he changes position in that scenario, which leads us back to Bass to succeed Martin. The Cowboys could always draft a guard high next year, but everything we hear from team reporters is that the team thinks highly of Bass.

Signed as an undrafted free agent last April, Bass made spot starts at left and right guard as a rookie; one in place of Martin and the other in place of Tyler Smith. He allowed six pressures, one sack and just five hurries on 190 pass-blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus.

It's a truncated sample size, but the Cowboys trusted Bass enough to play him in 12 games. That's no small feat for a rookie free agent. He logged north of 20 snaps in five of those fixtures, which underlined his status as the top backup guard on the roster.

If Bass is the choice to replace Martin, he'll have massive shoes to fill. Martin has made more Pro Bowls in his career than he has holding penalties. He's a surefire future Hall of Famer. Replacing a legend isn't supposed to be easy or seamless, but Bass appears to be next in line behind Martin if he hangs 'em up.

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