How Zack Martin's contract holdout strengthens the Cowboys' Super Bowl hopes

Zack Martin's contract holdout could be a blessing in disguise for the Cowboys.
Indianapolis Colts v Dallas Cowboys
Indianapolis Colts v Dallas Cowboys / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Contract holdouts are often met with discontent and anguish. And not just from a team’s fanbase. Depending on the situation, it can negatively affect a team and put a player at odds with the organization.

That hasn’t been the case with Zack Martin and the Dallas Cowboys. And it stands to reason Martin’s holdout provides evidence why this team is a legitimate Super Bowl contender. 

This roster already doesn’t have many holes. Martin’s absence left a gaping one the Cowboys were struggling to fill. Suddenly a position that was starting to look like a question mark resembled a strength, as the Cowboys best five offensive linemen practiced together for the first time Tuesday.

Tyron Smith at left tackle. Tyler Smith at left guard. Tyler Biadasz at center. Martin at right guard. Terence Steele at right tackle. 

This group makes up one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. 

Depth may still be an issue. The Cowboys need offseason acquisition Chuma Edoga to be healthy. His versatility makes him a quality plug when Tyron Smith’s chronic back issue pops up again. 

But the reason Martin’s holdout has more to do with the locker room’s reaction than what he provides on the field. And the on the field product remains elite. 

Cowboys rallied around Zack Martin during his holdout

This entire team, from the players to the coaching staff to ownership, never turned on Martin when he decided to hold out. 

Jerry Jones chose his words wisely. He never bashed Martin, and even acknowledged his All-Pro left guard was underpaid. Jones spoke candidly with the media about how he perceived the difficulty of giving Martin more money. 

Yet, it was Jones who approached Martin for a face-to-face meeting at Saturday’s preseason game against Jacksonville at AT&T Stadium. It was Jones who closed the deal.

This is Jones learning from experience. He’s seen a player who represents the heart and soul of a team hold out before and the damage it caused in the locker room. 

Emmitt Smith’s holdout in 1993 persisted through the first two weeks of the regular season. The Cowboys lost those first two games, and the locker room rebelled. Charles Haley infamously smashed a locker room wall and screamed, “We can’t win with this rookie running back,” in reference to Derrick Lassic who was forced to start in Smith’s place. 

Jones ended up making Smith the highest paid running back in the NFL at the time. Emmitt returned in Week 3 and the Cowboys went on to win a second straight Super Bowl.  

Fast forward 30 years and it was Martin choosing to compromise and not ask to be the highest paid guard in the NFL – a prize no one could argue he deserves – taking a respectable raise instead. 

And when Martin returned, the entire team celebrated. 

"When we got the news in the offensive staff meeting, the room erupted," said head coach Mike McCarthy. "There were a lot of high fives and hugs, all day and night yesterday. That shows you what he means to us and what he means to our football team, and especially the offense."

Despite how the national media may choose to depict a couple fights between the offensive and defensive lines Wednesday, this team is more united than ever. 

The Cowboys chances of winning a Super Bowl went up this week. 

And it all started with a guy holding out for a better contract.

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