Ezekiel Elliott is one of the best football players in the National Football League. So much of what’s been said about him over the last few weeks doesn’t involve football.
First, not really but we can start here, the NFL announced that Elliott would not be punished for his involvement this offseason during an incident in Las Vegas. Shortly after that, a report surfaced that Zeke had privately said he was willing to hold out of training camp should he not receive a contract extension by the time the Cowboys become residents of Oxnard. Nothing about that is ideal.
The Cowboys leave for training camp on Thursday. That’s less than a week from now. While this weekend is typically a last hurrah for many around the league, the vast majority have plans for a few days from now when teams head out for camp. As mentioned... the Cowboys leave on Thursday.
It’s for this reason that the latest report from ProFootballTalk, the outlet that reported Elliott may in fact hold out, regarding Elliott is potentially troubling as well. PFT reported on Saturday evening that Ezekiel Elliott is believed to be making plans to be out of the country. The Cowboys leave for training camp on Thursday.
The Cowboys report for camp in five days. Running back Ezekiel Elliott may or may not be there. Per a league source, Elliott currently is believed to be making plans for a trip out of the country.
There’s no need to overreact here. It’s possible that Zeke is planning on leaving the country and then returning before the team leaves for Oxnard. It’s not like Thursday is tomorrow (unless you’re reading this on Wednesday for some reason). Still though, the news doesn’t exactly sit well upon first reading.
Assuming Elliott is in fact planning on leaving the country the timing is at the very least interesting. It does exist under the umbrella of possibilities that this is in connection to his plan to hold out of the beginning of camp. Yahoo’s Charles Robinson reported that this past week was set to be a big week for Elliott and the Cowboys regarding negotiations. Maybe that went a certain way.
Elliott can theoretically miss the beginning of camp, but there’s a point of no return
To be perfectly clear here, Ezekiel Elliott (and all NFL players, all athletes period) has every right to try and maximize his earning potential. That’s standard protocol and completely fair.
There’s the possibility though that the Cowboys may disagree with Elliott on his perceived financial worth to the team, though. And if these disagreements span over the course of time then Zeke’s hypothetical holdout could last for a good while. There is an end point, though.
Charles Robinson also highlighted a key detail in all of this during his reporting. Ezekiel Elliott has to report to the Cowboys by August 6th in order to gain an accrued season in 2019. That would be essential in his quest towards free agency if he ever wanted to get there.
The source said Elliott and his camp made plans to take this week to assess the options on the table before coming to a consensus before camp starts. The source added that options are basically broken into three tiers:
Elliott sits out of camp and digs in for a prolonged holdout.
Elliott sits out the start of camp but reports by Aug. 6, which would preserve his accrued fourth season and keep him on track for unrestricted free agency following his fifth season.
Elliott reports for camp under his current deal and continues to press for an extension.
The details of those options matter, of course. A prolonged holdout would likely get nasty and force the Cowboys to consider other options in their backfield while potentially exposing Elliott to higher injury risk without the benefit of getting into football shape during camp practices. Conversely, if Elliott sits out and then reports by Aug. 6, the accrued fourth season of service would preserve his option to once again hold out next year without impacting his unrestricted free-agent status following the fifth year of his deal.
So much of all this, and again we’re talking about a hypothetical here, is contingent upon just how far Zeke is willing to take things if he is actually contemplating that. Considering that all of the contract talk this offseason has been regarding his teammates Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper it’s possible that Elliott is ready to use his leverage now so that he’s not left behind. No one would blame him for that.
Of course, Elliott may not be leaving the country after all and this all could have been for nothing. We’ll have our answer in a few short days. Football is coming.
Who knows what else is.