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When it comes to the Dallas Cowboys, nothing is simple.One must read between the lines when deciphering just what the Cowboys might do.

Without question, Dez Bryant’s future is the biggest question facing the Cowboys in 2018. Yes, Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is set to be a free agent, but the Cowboys know he will be in their lineup one way or another because of the franchise tag. Yes, they would like to sign Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin to an extension, but they know they have him under contract for 2018 thanks to the fifth-year option on his rookie deal. Yes, defensive lineman David Irving is set to be a restricted free agent, but the Cowboys will likely put a second-round tag on him and either match a deal if one comes from another team or accept a second-round pick in return.

With Bryant, nothing is certain.

On Monday, executive vice president Stephen Jones went on the team’s “Hangin’ with the Boys” podcast and seemed to set up the Cowboys’ offseason position with Bryant. Since signing his five-year, $70 million deal after the 2014 season, he has not been the same receiver. This past season he played in every game and caught 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns.

“We pay Dez a lot of money, and he knows that. He’s aware of it as anybody when he talks to Jerry and myself,” Stephen Jones said. “He knows when you get paid that kind of money, there’s high expectations in terms of the productivity. Those are all things that we have to look at as a team, as an organization, when we start to put our team together for next year.”

Bryant is set to make $12.5 million in 2018. He has a $16.5 million cap figure. The Cowboys can release him and save $8 million. They can designate him a post-June 1 cut and save $12 million and he will count $4 million against the 2019 cap.

The Cowboys could ask Bryant to take a pay cut, but the last time they faced a dicey contractual situation with one of their all-time greats, DeMarcus Ware, they did not make him an offer because they did not want to hurt him with a lowball contract. They eventually cut Ware and he signed with the Denver Broncos, winning a Super Bowl in his second season there.

Also on the podcast, Stephen Jones said that Bryant’s sideline outbursts are a distraction. Over the years, Jason Garrett has defended Bryant’s actions as a sign of passion. On Wednesday at the Senior Bowl, Stephen Jones was asked to clarify what he meant.

“Well, Dez is an emotional guy. He plays with emotion. That’s part of his game,” Stephen Jones said in this Dallas Morning News story. “We work with him constantly on trying to really channel his energy in positive ways. I just think when he has those types of emotional roller coasters, I think at the end of the day he needs to understand that it does affect more than just Dez. He loves his teammates. He obviously has made so many great plays for us over the years but when you start to look at the things that we need to be better at, that’s one of them. I think he needs to understand that it’s not something that’s just affecting him, it does affect his teammates.”

On Tuesday from the Senior Bowl, Jerry Jones played something of the good cop when he was asked if Bryant was still a Dak Prescott-friendly receiver as the Cowboys look to direct their offense around their third-year quarterback’s talents.

“Well again, I’ve said this and I’m so proud of Dez and proud of where he is today, with us,” Jerry Jones said. “I believe Dez to have a lot of gas in the tank. I think we need to improve across the board with our receivers, and I think we will. In doing so, it should be an opportunity for Dez.”

Does he expect Bryant to be on the team?

“Well, everyone we’ve got under contract right now — and I’m not addressing anyone — but everyone we’ve got under contract and have years left on their contract, I expect to be with the team,” Jerry Jones said.

And this is where you can read between the lines. If Bryant was a dead-set lock to be on the roster in 2018, Jerry Jones could have just said yes. He was direct in some of his answers about the coaching staff. Here he left the door open with the “expect to.”

Nothing that has been said this week is new to Bryant. He addressed his situation late in the regular season. He knows the NFL business. And he said he would not take a pay cut if asked. He has not been asked yet.

Like Ware, he might not be asked either.

The door for Bryant’s departure seems to be open.

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Dallas Cowboys coaches — those who remain, anyway — are set to return from vacation next week, and at some point they will head to Mobile, Alabama, for the Senior Bowl.

At the moment, the Cowboys need a tight ends coach, a linebackers coach, a secondary coach, a special-teams coordinator, a wide receivers coach and a quarterbacks coach. The front office and head coach Jason Garrett might already know who will fill some of those roles and just aren’t saying.

So let’s lay out what has happened to the staff since the season ended, and what might happen next:

WHO’S OUT?

Special-teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia — Despite being under contract and putting together a good unit the past few seasons, he was allowed to leave by the front office and join Jon Gruden with the Oakland Raiders. Bisaccia is respected across the league and desires to be a head coach one day. Getting back together with Gruden could help him.

Linebackers coach Matt Eberflus — He is expected to be Josh McDaniels’ defensive coordinator wherever the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator lands a head-coaching job (Indianapolis Colts, cough, cough). He was elevated to passing-game coordinator in 2017 and was a key part of the coverage schemes the Cowboys used. He devised their dime package a couple of years ago. He bet on himself last year, choosing not to sign an extension with the Cowboys in hopes of becoming a coordinator in 2018.

Wide receivers coach Derek Dooley — He would have been back with the Cowboys in 2018 but was able to land the offensive coordinator job at Missouri. This move allows him the chance to get back on track to being a head coach one day.

Offensive line coach Frank Pollack — With Pro Bowlers Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin on his unit, his job did not appear to be on the line after the 2017 season ended. But a change was made, anyway, even though he remained under contract. He ended up as the line coach with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson — The longest-tenured assistant under Garrett (2007-17), he was Dak Prescott’s first backer on the staff prior to the 2016 draft. His contract expired, and he was told he would not return.

Secondary coach Joe Baker — He was told his contract would not be renewed. While he incorporated almost an entirely new secondary in 2017, the fact that the players the Cowboys let walk in free agency — such as Barry Church, Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne — played better elsewhere did not help his cause.

Tight ends coach Steve Loney — He chose to retire after one season in his position, ending a coaching career that began in 1974.

WHO’S IN?

Offensive line coach Paul Alexander — He spent 23 years as the Bengals’ line coach and was able to put together some solid running game and pass protection schemes. He inherits what will be the best group he has coached and will be in charge of improving the pass protection while keeping the run game top notch. Over the years, he has changed his blocking scheme depending on the talent he has had.

Running backs coach Gary Brown — Sources say he is expected to return for his sixth season. He had interest from the Raiders and Houston Texans. He has had success with DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden and Ezekiel Elliott since joining the Cowboys. He has also developed Keith Smith from a linebacker to a fullback and Rod Smith as an effective third-down back.

Sanjay Lal — A source said Lal will be the receivers coach after interviewing for the position last week. Miles Austin also interviewed for the spot and could be considered for another role on the staff, but Lal’s experience gave him the edge. The key question for the Cowboys and whoever coaches the receivers will be Dez Bryant’s future with the team.

WHO COULD BE IN?

Kellen Moore — After spending most of last season on the practice squad, he has interviewed for the quarterbacks coach job, and his close ties to Scott Linehan help his case. He has always been viewed as a coach-in-waiting. Considering that Linehan effectively runs the quarterback room as coordinator, it will allow Moore a chance to grow as a coach.

Keith O’Quinn — He has served as Bisaccia’s assistant since 2014. He has experience in coaching on both sides of the ball and comes from a scouting background. Considering how a special-teams unit is put together, the coach has to have an understanding of every level. The special-teams coordinator also has to work closely with Garrett. O’Quinn’s experience on the staff helps.

John Pagano — He is scheduled to meet with the club over the next few days. He ended last season as Oakland’s defensive coordinator, taking over for Ken Norton Jr. He has been an NFL assistant since 1996 and has extensive work as a linebackers coach, which is a sign the Cowboys are preparing for life without Eberflus. Pagano has experience in 4-3 and 3-4 systems and could be a solid resource for defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

Ray Horton — He won a Super Bowl ring with the Cowboys in 1992 as a defensive back and was considered for Garrett’s staff back in 2011. He was out of football last season after serving as Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator in 2016. While the Cowboys would like Greg Jackson to return to help the secondary, Horton has a lot of experience.

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If the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive linemen want to know about their new coach, Paul Alexander, they would be wise to study Willie Anderson.

They will see a lot of Anderson whenever they get around Alexander. Anderson has not played since 2008, but he is still a fixture on the tape Alexander shows his linemen each year.

In 1996, Anderson was the first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, the 10th overall selection. He was named a Pro Bowler four times. He was an All-Pro pick three times. He started every game he played from 1997-2006. If not for Anthony Munoz, a Hall of Famer, he would be the best offensive tackle in Bengals history.

“Great coaches learn that teachers teach,” Anderson said. “A teacher should never say, ‘I teach math.’ You should say, ‘I teach John math. I teach the student.’ That’s an important of teaching. Don’t say, ‘This is my scheme and we do this.’”

In 23 years as the Bengals’ line coach, Alexander adapted. Anderson said he changed based on the personnel he had. He is not just a power-blocking line coach. He is not just a zone-blocking coach. He teaches it all, according to Anderson.

The Cowboys have had success with a zone-blocking scheme since Bill Callahan came in as line coach and continued with Frank Pollack, whom Alexander will replace, the last three seasons. The Cowboys have not had a running game ranked outside the top 10 over the last four seasons. But in truth, the Cowboys ran all sorts of run plays.

“It’s a mix,” Anderson said. “Every O-line coach in football, that’s the biggest misconception. If you’re a line coach, you’re teaching everything. We run power. We run zone. It’s all the same stuff. It’s about how that individual guy can get it taught to those five guys on the line.”

Through the years, the Bengals running game had success. From 2000-02, Corey Dillon had at least 1,300 yards rushing each season and 24 rushing touchdowns. From 2003-06, Rudi Johnson had at least 1,300 yards rushing each season and 36 rushing touchdowns. From 2009-11, Cedric Benson had three straight 1,000-yard seasons and 19 rushing touchdowns. In 2012, BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a 1,000-yard season. In 2014, Jeremy Hill had 1,124 yards rushing and in 2015 he had 11 rushing touchdowns.

“Corey Dillon was the best at what we called 16 and 17 Chase,” Anderson said. “He would chase my inside leg however I took the guy and he felt the inside guard, but you have to have the players to do that. Corey was a great zone runner because he was great at cutting back, great vision. He can press the line and at the last second allow for the blocker to set up the block. Why did Terrell Davis run for 2,000 yards running nothing but zone? Denver was the smallest line. They’d run zone and cut the back side. That’s all they did. So Corey loved Chase but at the end [of his time with the Bengals] he wanted to run straight ahead. That’s because our line changed. We didn’t have the guys that could get movement, so he felt like he could get more yards just running straight ahead. With Rudi, he ran the power game. He ran the counter game. He ran zone.”

Alexander had top talents like Anderson, Levi Jones and Andrew Whitworth. He also helped Kevin Zeitler earn the biggest contract for a guard in free agency last year when Zeitler joined the Browns.

With the Cowboys, Alexander inherits three Pro Bowlers in Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin. He has a young right tackle in La’el Collins. The left guard and backup tackle spots are in flux, but he has a group that is the envy of just about every team in the league. He will also have Ezekiel Elliott, who led the NFL in rushing in 2016 and finished 17 yards short of 1,000 in 2017 despite missing six games because of a suspension.

“It’s all about players you have and what you’re good at and what you’re back is great at,” Anderson said. “Zeke can do a plethora of things. … Paul’s going to assess Zeke, assess the offensive line and they’re going to put scheme together that’s best for them.”

Anderson, who runs a linemen academy for professional, college and high school players as clients, hopes to come down in the spring and work with Alexander, like he had done in Cincinnati, to help. He knows of the Cowboys’ linemen but doesn’t know them personally. But he knows how good they can be, which he sees as good as the group of the 1990s that won Super Bowls right before he entered the league.

“You take Zeke and Dak Prescott, their rookie year and that line was hailed up there with the Cowboys’ from the 1990s,” Anderson said. “Those guys were dominant. That group brought a lot of attention. As an O-line, we want attention. We want people to see how important that group is to show everybody why they were successful as a team. That’s what these guys have. Now you move Collins out to right tackle, I think he’s still learning but he’ll be better in his second year at the position. You have a dominant center and guard that can get overlooked because of how dominant Tyron is. But that’s a real good group of guys. I know Paul is ecstatic to get his hands on to them.”

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all of his years as owner and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones had not made a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals until last September when the team acquired cornerback Bene Benwikere.

In effect, the Cowboys have made their second trade with the Bengals, swapping offensive line coaches.

According to a source, the Cowboys have hired Paul Alexander, who had been with the Bengals for 23 years, to replace Frank Pollack, who took Alexander’s job with the Bengals.

Alexander has a multi-faceted background as the Bengals’ line coach since 1995. While Pollack came from the Bill Callahan school of zone blocking, Alexander uses a combination of zone, power and trap schemes.

Since 2014, the Cowboys have not had a running game rank outside the top 10. DeMarco Murray led the NFL in rushing in 2014. Darren McFadden finished fourth in 2015 even though he did not become the lead back until the sixth game of the season. Ezekiel Elliott led the league in rushing in 2016.

Elliott nearly became the first Cowboys runner to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons top open a career since Tony Dorsett in 1977-78, finishing 17 yards short despite playing in just 10 games because of a suspension.

The strength of the Cowboys’ roster is their offensive line, led by Pro Bowlers Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin. Smith has been named to the Pro Bowl each of the last five years. Frederick and Martin have been named the last four seasons.

La’el Collins moved from left guard to right tackle in 2017 and improved as the year went on. The two questions the Cowboys have are at left guard, where 13-game starter Jonathan Cooper is set to become a free agent, and at backup offensive tackle, where things fell apart in Smith’s absence from three-plus games due to injury.

The Bengals did not have success in 2017, finishing ranked last in yards offensively and 31st in rushing. Andy Dalton was sacked 39 times after getting sacked 41 times in 2016.

But Alexander will undoubtedly have the most talented group of linemen he has had in his career in Dallas. He oversaw the development of Willie Anderson, a first-round pick in 1997, who became a five-time Pro Bowler. He also saw Andrew Whitworth become a Pro Bowl left tackle. Kevin Zeitler left the Bengals after the 2016 season for the richest free-agent deal ever given to a guard. Martin should top that figure this offseason or next.

The Cowboys felt they needed to move on from Pollack even though the rushing numbers in the six games without Elliott were still good enough to rank in the top 10. Pass protection was an issue. Dak Prescott was sacked 32 times, including 22 times in the final eight games of the season. The passing game took a major hit with Prescott not throwing for at least 200 yards in eight games.

Even with Smith on the field, there was a belief among some in the building that the pass protection was the biggest reason for the slide of the pass-game numbers, especially in the second half.

The Cowboys don’t need to overhaul their running game. However, they can add to the scheme with the addition of Alexander. Where Alexander needs to have the biggest impact is protecting Prescott.

The Cowboys believe if they can do that, they won’t be far off from playing in games like this weekend’s.

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Offensive line coach Frank Pollack will not be back with the Dallas Cowboys in 2018, as he joined the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday.

It is the sixth change on Jason Garrett’s staff since the season ended and perhaps the most significant, because of the resources the Cowboys have put in their offensive line and their desire to be a run-first team.

Paul Alexander, who spent more than 20 years with the Cincinnati Bengals, is interviewing with the Cowboys as Pollack’s replacement, according to a source. A source said Tom Cable, who was fired by the Seattle Seahawks and was a college teammate of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, is also a candidate.

Assistant offensive line coach Marc Colombo, who played for the Cowboys from 2005-10, will also be in the mix.

Pollack took over for Bill Callahan after the 2014 season. Dallas was in the top 10 in rushing — including second in both 2016 and 2017 — in each of Pollack’s three seasons as the line coach.

During Pollack’s tenure, left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick and right guard Zack Martin made the Pro Bowl each season and all three were first-team All-Pro picks in 2016. Pollack also oversaw the move of La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle in 2017.

Pass protection, however, was an issue in 2017. Dak Prescott was sacked 32 times after he was sacked 25 times as a rookie. The Cowboys missed Smith for three full games and all but three snaps of a fourth. In the first game Smith missed, Prescott was sacked eight times by the Atlanta Falcons, with backup tackles Chaz Green and Byron Bell giving up six sacks. Without Smith on the field, Prescott threw one touchdown pass. The protection was better with Smith on the field, but Prescott’s yard per attempt dropped from 8 to 6.8 in 2017.

Pollack joined the Cowboys in 2013 as Callahan’s assistant offensive line coach. When Callahan left for the Washington Redskins, Garrett promoted Pollack, who is a stickler for details and technique.

Pollack joins special-teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, wide receivers coach Derek Dooley, quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, secondary coach Joe Baker and tight ends coach Steve Loney as coaches not returning. Bisaccia was named the special-teams coach with the Oakland Raiders, and Dooley became the offensive coordinator at Missouri. Loney is retiring, and Wilson and Baker had expiring contracts.

Running backs coach Gary Brown, whose contract ran out, also reportedly interviewed with the Raiders and has drawn interest from at least one more team. The Cowboys, however, want to keep Brown. Passing game coordinator/linebackers coach Matt Eberflus and secondary coach Greg Jackson also have expiring contracts.

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As the Dallas Cowboys look to fill out their coaching staff, they know they will not have a vacancy on their personnel staff.

Will McClay, the vice president of player personnel, said Wednesday that he has officially declined a chance to interview for the Houston Texans’ general manager job. When reports surfaced last weekend that McClay had turned down the chance to speak with Houston, he said he had not been contacted by any representatives of the team.

McClay’s decision to remain in Dallas is the best news the Cowboys have had in the early offseason. He has run the team’s personnel department since 2014 and has played the lead in drafting four Pro Bowlers: Zack Martin, DeMarcus Lawrence, Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. The Cowboys have also added 12 starters or key contributors through the draft during that time, in addition to right tackle La’el Collins as an undrafted free agent.

McClay has received interest from a number of teams in recent years, including the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers, but has opted to remain with the Cowboys, who have given McClay a bigger title and added responsibility.

The Texans’ job had some interest for McClay, a Houston native and Rice graduate. He has family in the city and he would not be far from his son. Plus, the Texans have a decent roster, especially with the eventual return to health of J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson, and a good cap situation to be a contender in the AFC.

McClay has been with the Cowboys since 2002, working his way up from a pro scout. While Jerry Jones maintains the general manager role and Stephen Jones is the director of player personnel, they lean heavily on McClay in the draft process and throughout the season.

He has helped bring stability to the draft room with a program designed to keep the scouts and coaches on the same page.

One day he could have the chance to run his own team, but for now McClay is betting on himself and betting on the Cowboys.c

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Dallas Cowboys right guard Zack Martin is recovering from right elbow surgery that will keep him out of the upcoming Pro Bowl but not from the start of the offseason program.

The surgery was a considered a cleanup and nothing too serious. Martin did not miss a game in 2017 and has not missed a game in his career.

The Cowboys hope to pick up talks on a long-term deal for Martin, who has been to the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons, early in the offseason. He is set to make $9.3 million in 2018 under the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, but the Cowboys would like to lock him up to a deal that takes him well into the future. Martin has also expressed a desire to remain with the Cowboys.

Left tackle Tyron Smith is also expected to miss the Pro Bowl after he ended the season on injured reserve. He was slowed by back, hip and groin injuries but was placed on injured reserve the final week of the season because of a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his right knee suffered against the Oakland Raiders.

At the end of the season, coach Jason Garrett said the hope is Smith could avoid surgery. Smith missed three games and most of a fourth because of injuries after missing two games in 2016.

“He has had some different things over the last couple of years that he’s dealt with,” Garrett said the day after the season ended. “We don’t necessarily see it as a trend. He’s still a young player. He’s played a lot of snaps, but physically he seems to be in good shape beyond the specific injuries that he’s had.”

Without Martin and Smith, center Travis Frederick would be the lone Cowboys’ representative on the offensive line at the Pro Bowl. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who had 14.5 sacks, was also picked for the all-star game.

Defensive tackle Maliek Collins had left foot surgery to help fix an issue that bothered him from the sixth game of the season on. Collins did not miss a game and moved to defensive tackle when the Cowboys put Stephen Paea on injured reserve. He finished the season with 2.5 sacks and 22 tackles.

Collins had similar surgery on his right foot prior to his rookie season and was limited into training camp, but he managed to start 14 of 16 games and finish with five sacks. The Cowboys do not expect him to have any issues recovering from this surgery.

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The changes Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett have alluded to since the Dallas Cowboys’ season ended have started.

According to multiple sources, special-teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia will be allowed to leave despite being under contract with the Cowboys for two more seasons, and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson and secondary coach Joe Baker, whose contracts were set to expire, were told they will not be back with the team.

Bisaccia will most likely to join Jon Gruden with the Oakland Raiders.

The future of offensive line coach Frank Pollack is also in question, despite having three Pro Bowl players — Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin — in place since 2014. Pollack took over as line coach in 2015; during his tenure the Cowboys have finished ninth, second and second in the NFL in rushing.

Pass protection, however, was an issue in 2017, especially with Smith missing three full games and most of a fourth because of injuries. The Cowboys allowed 32 sacks; 22 came in the final eight games, including eight against Atlanta without Smith. Dak Prescott threw just one touchdown pass in the games in which Smith did not play.

Bisaccia had been the Cowboys’ assistant head coach and special-teams coordinator since 2013. While the return games have not produced much, the Cowboys’ coverage teams have been among the best in the NFL. The Cowboys allowed just 75 punt return yards this season, the fewest in the league. Before a late-season slide, Dan Bailey had been the most accurate kicker in NFL history, and punter Chris Jones had his best season.

The Cowboys had made a commitment to adding or keeping key special-teams contributors over the years.

Wilson had been the quarterbacks coach since 2007. He helped the development of Tony Romo and Prescott, who earned Pro Bowl honors, but the Cowboys drafted just two quarterbacks during Wilson’s tenure: Stephen McGee in 2009 and Prescott in 2016. Both were fourth-round picks.

Baker, a college teammate of Garrett’s, was promoted to secondary coach in 2016 after spending four seasons as an assistant secondary or safeties coach. The Cowboys have not had a secondary member lead the team with more than three interceptions since Terence Newman had four in 2011. The Cowboys selected four defensive backs — Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Xavier Woods and Marquez White — in last year’s draft after opting to let veterans Brandon Carr, Barry Church, Morris Claiborne and J.J. Wilcox leave in free agency.

Carr, Church and Claiborne were much more productive with their new teams than they had been with the Cowboys in their final seasons.

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Last offseason the stated goal of Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones was to sign All-Pro right guard Zack Martin to a contract extension, but that never came about.As the Cowboys look to an offseason that starts the day after Sunday’s finale against the Philadelphia Eagles, the priority remains to sign Martin to a long-term deal. A source said the discussions should happen a lot sooner than last year when they did not happen much until training camp.

The Cowboys and Martin’s agents, Tom Condon and R.J. Gonser, held talks last offseason and into training camp but the discussions never really progressed very far. When the season started Martin wanted the negotiations to end so he could focus on the field.

“I think we had good talks,” Martin said. “It was just at the time, I didn’t want it to linger during the season and think about it. Kind of held it and played this year so hopefully we can talk and get something done here this offseason.”

The Cowboys signed left tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick to long-term extensions prior to the start of their fourth seasons. The Cowboys have the fifth-year option on Martin for 2018, which is worth $9.3 million. With DeMarcus Lawrence looking at the franchise tag and the team wanting to retain other free agents, signing Martin could be an important part of the offseason to create some salary-cap flexibility.

Martin’s deal should surpass the five-year, $60 million deal Kevin Zeitler signed with the Cleveland Browns last offseason as a free agent that included $31.5 million in guarantees. He was named to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in four seasons last week and has never missed a game.

Despite the lack of success this season, Martin has no desire to play anywhere else.

“I was lucky enough to be drafted here and I want to be here for my career,” Martin said. “Hopefully we can get something worked out.”

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It’s not that Travis Frederick needed to introduce himself to Joe Looney, but not seeing Zack Martin to his right on Thanksgiving against the Los Angeles Chargers threw off the Dallas Cowboys’ All-Pro center a little.

“It is bizarre,” Frederick said, noting changes the past few years at left guard including Ronald Leary, La’el Collins, Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper. “But having somebody that’s been a stalwart not there, it’s interesting to say the least.”

Since 2014 when the Cowboys drafted Martin in the first round, they have been on the field together for 3,813 of 3,866 snaps over the past four seasons. Forty-seven of the snaps have come this season.

Martin suffered a concussion in the second quarter against the Chargers and did not return, playing 20 of 55 offensive snaps before being replaced by Looney. With a big lead against the San Francisco 49ers, Martin played in 63 of the 75 offensive snaps.

He had a helmet-to-helmet collision while pulling on a Rod Smith run. He briefly took a knee to gather himself but made it back to the huddle and played the next four snaps.

“I knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what it was,” Frederick said. “He was kind of late to coming back to the huddle and usually he’s a quick guy back to the huddle. I said, ‘Are you OK?’ I didn’t see what happened, so I didn’t know and he said, ‘Yeah, I’m good,’ and he went forward. I didn’t think anything of it on the sideline.”

With the Chargers in possession, Martin went through the concussion testing and eventually went back to the locker room before being ruled out.

The good news for Frederick — and the Cowboys — Martin went through a limited portion of Monday’s practice, which is a sign he will be available Thursday against the Washington Redskins.

He has not missed a game in his career.