Ranking the Cowboys top training camp priorities after Zack Martin mess

Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /
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Tony Pollard (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
Tony Pollard (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /

Zack Martin is threatening to hold out of Dallas Cowboys training camp. With the front office juggling multiple contract negotiations, let’s rank Dallas’ priorities as camp gets underway. 

As the Dallas Cowboys gear up for the new season, Zack Martin is here to infuse some stakes into Jerry Jones’ summer. The Pro Bowl offensive tackle is threatening to hold out of Cowboys training camp, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He’s currently making about $7 million less per season than the league’s highest-paid guards.

Martin isn’t the only contract conundrum plaguing the Dallas front office. While he’s the only player threatening to actively hold out, the Cowboys have also sought contract extensions with CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs, and Terence Steele. There’s also the matter of star running back Tony Pollard, who will play out the final year of his contract on the $10.9 million franchise tag after failing to reach terms on an extension with Dallas.

The Cowboys have one goal this season: win the NFC East, then the Super Bowl.

That’s a tall task; the Eagles loom large as reigning NFC champs and the division as a whole is tougher than average. The Cowboys were 12-5 last season — including 8-1 at home — and still finished two games behind Philadelphia in the standings. The Giants were 9-7 and got better over the summer. The Commanders, under new ownership, will be looking to make a splash

With the onus being to win as much as possible in the short term, Dallas should be unafraid to pay its best players. It’s also important, however, to avoid bad contracts that could hamper the team’s financial flexibility at the trade deadline and in future seasons. There’s a fine line between being aggressive and loyal, and being foolish. Jerry Jones will have to toe that line gracefully.

The Cowboys are juggling a lot of balls right now; let’s dive into a quick rundown of where exactly the front office’s priorities should lie.

No. 6 Cowboys training camp priority: Terence Steele contract extension 

A bankable offensive tackle who the Cowboys discovered in undrafted free agency in 2020, Terence Steele is due for a new contract. The sides are expected to work on a long-term extension, according to Mike Fisher of Sports Illustrated. The Cowboys’ bread and butter is their dominant offensive line. Steele has become a crucial piece there.

No. 5 Cowboys training camp priority: Tony Pollard and the RB situation 

The Cowboys elected not to extend Tony Pollard, setting the stage for a bitter breakup in 2024. Pollard’s negotiations went the same way as Josh Jacobs in Oakland and Saquon Barkley in New York. With the running back market drying up across the league, there was simply no pressure on Dallas to get Pollard locked up on a pricey contract.

That said, Dallas needs to maintain the long view here. If Pollard isn’t part of the future, what’s the succession plan? There are cheap alternatives on the free agent market — there’s still time to scoop up Dalvin Cook, potentially at a discounted price. But mainly, keep an eye on second-year back Malik Davis and rookie Deuce Vaughn. Both should get change-of-pace work behind Pollard and could increase their standing at the season progresses. That all starts with a strong training camp.