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Cowboys Zack Martin highest-paid guard

FRISCO, Texas (AP) The deal making Zack Martin of the Dallas Cowboys the highest-paid guard in the NFL is finally done.

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The Cowboys and Martin agreed to terms on an $84 million, six-year contract extension that should keep the two-time All-Pro in Dallas through at least 2024, a person with direct knowledge of the deal said Wednesday.

The contract includes $40 million guaranteed money, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn't been announced.

The sides got close enough to an agreement over the weekend that Martin went through the first two days of mandatory minicamp after missing all nine voluntary offseason practices as negotiations that got serious last year kept dragging.

The Cowboys intended all along to give Martin the biggest contract at his position. The delay pushed the price tag up after Jacksonville's Andrew Norwell signed a $66.5 million, five-year contract in March.

The $14 million average on Martin's deal surpasses Norwell's $13.3 million average.

Martin, the 16th overall pick in 2014, was an All-Pro as a rookie when DeMarco Murray led the NFL in rushing for the NFC East champions. He repeated the feat two years later when rookie Ezekiel Elliott was the league rushing leader for another division champion.

The 27-year-old Martin, who has started all 67 games of his career including the playoffs at right guard, has made the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons.

Even as negotiations lagged, the former Notre Dame standout said he was never interested in testing free agency. He will make $9.3 million in the final year of his rookie contract.

''I want to be here in Dallas,'' Martin said Tuesday, when the deal was close but not complete. ''I've said that from the beginning. I'll stand tall that I want to be in Dallas and I never wanted to go anywhere else.''

Martin addressed a throng of reporters from his relocated locker at the Cowboys' practice facility. He has the spot of former Dallas tight end Jason Witten, who retired after 15 seasons to go into broadcasting.

''He certainly represents everything, the things that Witten represented over the course of 15 years,'' coach Jason Garrett said. ''Those are the kind of guys you want on your team. Those are the kind of guys you want as the face of your program. Come to work early. Stay late.''

With Martin's deal in place, the Cowboys have their top three linemen - all first-round picks with multiple Pro Bowls - locked up at least through 2023. That's the final year of the current deals for left tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick.

''We've got a ton of great leaders on this team, a ton of guys that are going to be here for a long time,'' Martin said. ''And I know I'm one of those guys and one of those leaders.''

---

More AP NFL: http://pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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