Despite the fact that the Dallas Cowboys have arrived in Oxnard, California for training camp there is still some uncertainty hovering over the club, and it has to do with one of their best players.
Ezekiel Elliott, entering his fourth year with the team, wants a contract extension. Who can blame him? He’s led the NFL in rushing in two of his three seasons, likely would have in all three if not for a much-debated suspension, and is the heart and soul of the Cowboys offense. This saga started before last season even ended and it’s now dipping in to this one.
The team did indeed arrive in Oxnard on Thursday evening via a charter flight, one that Elliott was not a part of. This wasn’t necessarily a sign that he was going to make good on a potential holdout as he has until Friday to show up, but it was at the very least an eyebrow raise in that direction.
It’s obvious that Elliott wants to get paid and precedent across the NFL sort of exists for him to. Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams, also a first-round pick, got his big contract a year ago when he was entering his fourth season, the same NFL point that Zeke is currently at. According to Yahoo’s Charles Robinson it’s Gurley’s contract that Elliott is looking to top.
On Ezekiel Elliott and the #Cowboys, I'm told the extension Elliott is looking for would exceed Todd Gurley's four-year $57.5 million deal. Which means Dallas could eventually have 3 players (including QB Dak Prescott & WR Amari Cooper) among the top 3 salaries at their position.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) July 26, 2019
Gurley is the only running back in the NFL who is paid over $14M per season (he’s paid $14.375M annually) as Le’Veon Bell just signed a deal with the New York Jets this offseason that puts him at $13.125M. He also may have set the running back position back collectively as far as getting big-time extensions due to the fact that he got hurt last season and is now dealing with a knee injury that has caused tons of speculation.
While Gurley’s extension in totality was for $57.5M it’s also worth paying attention to what was guaranteed: $45M, $21.95M at signing, $21M as a signing bonus. It feels fair (and is obvious) to assume that Zeke wants north of all of those numbers.
There are a lot of thoughts as to how NFL teams should handle paying running backs (people think they shouldn’t) especially when you’re approaching numbers like these. With Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper both also needing extensions (and other players soon to follow) it certainly sounds like a lot to commit to such a contract.
The question always has been whether Zeke is worth it, and he indisputably is in terms of who he is as a player; however, a large part of the reality here is that he plays running back and that position has been devalued by the rest of the league. Will the Cowboys fall into that camp, too?
We’ll know soon enough. Maybe.