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Cowboys news: Answering the question of paying Ezekiel Elliott or not

The Cowboys latest news o’ the day.

Divisional Round - Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

Falcons’ Dan Quinn ready to show off coaching overhaul - Albert Breer,
Out in San Diego, the Melvin Gordon situation has many thinking about how the NFL treats young running backs and their contracts.

The Melvin Gordon and Ezekiel Elliott contract situations flared up over the last few weeks, causing the debate over tailbacks getting paid to rage. And I think a lot of people are missing the mark on it, mainly because those two guys, as most NFL teams see it, are in different categories.

I asked some scouts this week about the state of the position, and what the league is getting from its feeder system. It’s clear that the NFL has a smaller top tier at the position than it does at other positions, and a much, much larger second tier.

That brings us to the new mold for the elite NFL back, which is a 225-pound (or so) bruiser who can play on all three downs. That’s Elliott. It’s also Todd Gurley and Saquon Barkley and was, and may be again, Le’Veon Bell. David Johnson, for a time, probably was in this category too.

“Those four are all from the same mold—they’re 220 pounds, they can play all three downs, they’re rare,” said one NFC personnel man, who evaluated all of them coming out. “Maybe they become less rare in time, but they’re unicorns now. And to replace one, you need three guys – two first- and second-down runners, and then a third-down guy.”

They also give a team something it can’t get from a combination of players: a queen-on-the-chess-board dynamic facilitated by their versatility, which is brought to life in how defenses aren’t getting a tell on what the offense is doing when they’re on the field.

Not surprisingly, many think Elliott is so unique that even the jaded guys think Dallas should resign him.

I asked two scouts that work, and have worked, for teams that never pay backs whether or not they’d pay Elliott if they were Dallas. One quickly said yes. The other came around, after about 15 seconds of consternation.

“I’d be nervous,” said this AFC exec. “You have the injury question, you see what happened with Gurley, and you have to take care of Dak and Amari (Cooper). But would I pay Zeke? I probably would. He’s that good.”

Why comparing Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott’s situation to DeMarco Murray’s doesn’t make sense - David Moore, SportsDay
At this point, we don’t know if Zeke will hold out or not, but some think the Cowboys may give Elliott the “DeMarco Murray treatment.” That seems unlikely.

Elliott is a special player.

Murray is a good player who had a special season.

Elliott was the fourth pick in the draft. The Cowboys took him believing he had the chance to be a generational back, a talent closer to Adrian Peterson than the runners who shine for three or four years then are quickly discarded.

Murray was a third-rounder, the 71st player taken when he came out of Oklahoma. There were five backs taken before him.

Yes, the Cowboys let Murray walk away months after he rushed for a franchise-record 1,845 yards. He was 27 and had missed 11 games because of injury in his career.

Elliott turned 24 on Monday. He hasn’t missed a game because of injury in his three seasons.

2016 NFL Draft revisited: Ranking the top 10 players in the class - David Carr,
If you make this list, you’re good. Ezekiel Elliott not only makes the list, he tops it.

Zeke has led the NFL in rushing yards in two of his three years in the league (while boasting the highest yards-per-game average in all three). Over 15 games last season, he racked up 1,434 rushing yards -- more than 100 yards clear of the next-best rusher (Saquon Barkley). Elliott is arguably the most valuable non-quarterback in the league, as he dictates coverage and takes a ton of pressure off Dak Prescott. Even with all the attention the Cowboys back receives from opposing defenses, I won’t be surprised when he leads the league in rushing yards again this season.

Can Dak Raise His Game To Another Level? - Staff,
The folks over at the Mothership have been quizzing each other all summer and now that ask what is likely the most important question.

David Helman: I’m as big of a Dak supporter as there is, but the answer is obvious: He had better raise his play if his salary is about to cross the $30 million mark. Prescott has been fantastic far more often than not during his first three years in the league, but his consistency and is ability to diagnose a defense are things that will need to improve as he transitions into this point of his career. Fortunately, two things that can’t be doubted about Dak are his confidence and his drive. He looked fantastic during OTAs, and I expect that to carry over. I really do think this will be the best season of his career.

Eli Manning, Daniel Jones Won't Have Open QB Competition - Rob Goldberg, Bleacher Report
So, apparently the only people who think Eli Manning continues to be a legitimate NFL starting quarterback are the people who run the Giants. Good times.

The team wants to prevent Jones from getting "complacent," but Manning will be the Week 1 starter barring an injury.

This is a slight change from last month when head coach Pat Shurmur left the door open about Jones potentially starting in Week 1.

"You never know what is going to happen," Shurmur said at the time, per Jordan Raananof ESPN.

While this raised some eyebrows, indications for the rest of the offseason have been that Manning will retain his role after starting all but one game over the last 14 seasons.

The head coach left little room for interpretation when he explained the depth chart in May.

"At the quarterback position, we have a starter in Eli and we have guys behind him, specifically Daniel Jones, who need to do everything they can to be ready to play Week 1. That's where we're at," Shurmur said, per Reuters (via Yahoo).

Cowboys enemy report: What happens to Eagles if Carson Wentz gets hurt, and who can they match up vs. Amari Cooper? - Alaina Getzenberg, SportsDay
SportsDay has an ongoing series asking beat writer’s from division rivals about their teams. This week the subject is the Philadelphia Eagles.

SD: What are the biggest questions for the Eagles heading into training camp?

Bowen: The biggest question mark around the Eagles is Carson Wentz. It's kind of odd, because he's played in 40 of 48 regular-season games since he was drafted, but the ones he's missed have all been in December, and then he's missed the playoffs the last two years. That's kind of a big deal, especially now that they don't have Nick Foles anymore.

Wentz is healthy right now and from all indications he's primed for a fine year, but he has to go out and do it and stay healthy. If he gets hurt, this time they're probably screwed.

SD: Has Carson Wentz done anything different this offseason to stay healthy and is he good to go for training camp?

Bowen: Last year he was rehabbing an ACL all the way through training camp. This year he had his back problem which wasn't as big a deal, so he had more time to really do workouts rather than rehabbing that one area. That alone is going to put him in a better place. He is supposedly stronger, so we'll just have to see.

Annual NFL Training Camp Tour Begins—And It’s Already In Jeopardy – Peter King, ProFootballTalk
King’s always lengthy weekly scribe includes a number of heart-tugging anecdotes about NFL training camps and the unique opportunities they afford players and fans to bond.

From Steelers camp: For three straight summers, 1975 to 1977, I attended basketball camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, where the Steelers simultaneously held cap. So the $90-per-week fee (dorm and cafeteria meals included) was the best bargain ever, a dream vacation at the height of the Steelers Dynasty. Access to the players was unreal. We shared a cafeteria with the team, stayed in an adjacent dorm, scrounged the fields after practice for left behind shirts and equipment, and played games of HORSE in the gym with players. We had a mission of getting an autograph from every player in camp. Some players were elusive. Terry Bradshaw, in disguise, would have someone pick him up in a car behind his dorm and deliver him to the back of the cafeteria for lunch, a distance of probably 300 yards. But we sniffed him out and got his autograph, and he complimented us on our sleuthing abilities. One day Mel Blount lifted me up to his eye level and said, “You want my autograph little guy?” and happily obliged. Jon Kolb told us the team wanted him to gain weight by making him eat four ice cream sandwiches after each meal. We made a deal to take a few of those ice cream sandwiches off his hands each day. Basketball was secondary. By week’s end I had a full autograph book and stories I will never forget. —Gary Kissinger, Pittsburgh

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