The Dallas Morning News

David Moore: Zack Martin > Johnny Manziel.

- DAVID MOORE Twitter: @DavidMoore­DMN

Johnny Manziel declares he’s sober and wants to recapture the NFL career he threw away.

Are the Cowboys talking about signing him? No. But the club is talking about making Zack Martin the highest-paid guard in the league.

Martin is the player the Cowboys selected instead of Manziel nearly four years ago. Martin had the enthusiast­ic support of virtually everyone in the organizati­on except Jerry Jones, who reluctantl­y went along with the lineman’s selection at No. 16.

This was never an indictment of Martin’s talent and what he could accomplish. It was all about the owner’s genetic dispositio­n to make the splashiest move possible. It was about the value of a potential franchise quarterbac­k over someone who blocks for him.

Nothing illustrate­s Manziel’s fall from grace or diminished expectatio­ns more than the fact no one speculated the Cowboys would sign the former Texas A&M star when he began his redemption tour earlier this week. The consensus is he’ll require a swim through the Canadian Football League for a year or two before any NFL team is comfortabl­e taking a chance on him again.

So, while Manziel begins his comeback by playing for a developmen­tal Spring League team in Austin next month, Martin will be in negotiatio­ns for a contract extension that pays more than the five-year, $60 million deal Cleveland guard Kevin Zeitler signed one year ago. Expect those talks to heat up when the Cowboys are in Indianapol­is for the scouting combine later this month.

Much has changed since the evening of May 8, 2014, when the Cowboys went with Martin over Manziel. The safe pick has been to four Pro Bowls and helps anchor one of the league’s best offensive lines. Two years later the Cowboys stumbled upon what they now believe to be their franchise quarterbac­k in Dak Prescott.

Jones has always been willing to give players a second chance. But is he willing to give a second chance to a player who, at best, would be the Cowboys’ backup quarterbac­k? If he’s inclined to do so, it won’t be this year.

Zack Martin is no Johnny Manziel.

That’s definitely worked out in the Cowboys favor.

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