NFL News & Analysis

Zack Martin tests positive for COVID-19, will miss 2021 season opener against Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive guard Zack Martin (70) prepares for the snap against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys will be without one of the league’s best offensive linemen in the NFL Kickoff Game Thursday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Cowboys right guard Zack Martin tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Thursday’s game against the Buccaneers, Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy said Sunday.

Per the Dallas Morning News' Michael Gehlken, the Cowboys have added eight players to Reserve/COVID-19 in the past 16 days, two more players than all of last year combined. Five of those eight are the result of a positive test, while the other three players were close contacts.

Martin is fully vaccinated and experienced flu-like symptoms when he tested positive Saturday morning, according to Gelkhan. Vaccinated players can return after two negative tests 24 hours apart. Unvaccinated players must self-isolate for 10 days.

McCarthy announced Connor McGovern will start in place of Martin. Cowboys guard Brandon Knight also entered COVID protocol as one of Martin's close contacts.

Martin is a six-time Pro Bowl selection and All-Pro selection. He was PFF’s second-highest graded (91.3) guard in 2020 despite missing six games with a calf injury.

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Martin a big loss: On average, each offensive lineman you don't carry over from the previous season's Week 1 is worth about 0.7 of a point to the point spread.  PFF's new Power Rankings Tool offers projections based on 10,000 season simulations, given Team Point Spread Ratings, Strength of Schedule and team records.

The Bucs are favorites: The Bucs have been anywhere from -6.5 to -7.5 against the Cowboys on the markets. They have never been more expensive than they are now at -7.5.  PFF Greenline uses exclusive game and player data to make projections on NFL game spreads, moneyline, and over/under.

Bucs still -7.5, teasers through 7 and 3 still alive: Per PFF's simulation, the Bucs are the favorites to repeat as Super Bowl champions. At roughly 6/1 in the markets, there is a small value to bet them right now.  PFF's Betting Futures Tool reveals betting opportunities within season win total and future markets.

PFF's 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Kit includes links to every article, tool and chart to best prepare you for your fantasy football draft. This will be updated regularly between now and Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season.


The best in the league: Zack Martin is arguably the best offensive lineman at any position in the NFL. He came in at No. 13 in the PFF50 coming off the best-graded season of his career.

Consistently excellent: Martin has never had a bad year, with seven straight overall PFF grades of at least 79.6, and four of the last five at 88.1 or better.

Martin: PFF grades and rank since 2016
Season PFF overall grade Rank
2020 91.3 2nd of 92
2019 88.1 3rd of 89
2018 81.5 3rd of 88
2017 89.0 2nd of 92
2016 88.7 1st of 85

A steep drop-off: The drop from Martin to any other option Dallas can roll with is steep, with McGovern likely to get the playing time in the meantime. McGovern surrendered 16 total pressures across 383 pass-blocking snaps last season.

Click here to see Zack Martin's career in PFF Premium Stats…

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