Ezekiel Elliott is currently not with the Dallas Cowboys as they prepare for the season at training camp in Oxnard. Elliott is certainly trying to use whatever leverage he can but there are still questions about the longevity of this potential hold out, mainly will it last longer than August 6th?
In order for a season to count toward a player’s “years of service,” that player has to be at training camp 30 days before the regular season begins.
So, if Elliott does not arrive in Oxnard by Aug. 6 – which is 30 days before the Cowboys first game against the Giants – that means this year will not count as one of his four seasons of service, even if he shows up later in the month and plays all 16 regular season games.
Elliott is looking for an early payday three years into his rookie deal, You know who also got his money three years in? Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams. Coincidentally, it is rumored that Ezekiel Elliott would like an extension exceeding that of Gurley’s deal and at the very least in that ball park.
So how does Ezekiel Elliott compare with Todd Gurley.
First off the metrics are important for reference. Last July, the Rams inked Gurley to a four-year, $57.5M deal, with $45M in guarantees. Gurley’s annual average is at $14,375,000, the highest mark in the NFL. Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson are the only other two running backs with averages in close range to Gurley at around $13M per season. It’s a steep drop to just about $8M per year after those two guys. According to Spotrac, Elliott’s current market value is listed just north of $9M per season but that’s wishful thinking on anyone’s part to believe he will accept anything less than top dollar.
Let’s look at Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott’s production through their first three years:
Todd Gurley had an incredible 2018 season but keep in mind that he was paid prior to any live snaps so the above is what earned him that $57.5M. Ezekiel Elliott compares quite well with Todd Gurley through his first three seasons. Elliott’s camp is most certainly aware of this and it’s favorable to his earning potential. Another variable that favors Zeke eclipsing the Gurley deal is the fact that Elliott has led the league in rushing two of the three years. Elliott managed to finish in the Top-10 in 2017 despite a six-game suspension. The best finish for Todd Gurley in his four seasons was fourth.
Ezekiel Elliott means just as much, if not, more than Todd Gurley means to his team. No matter what side of the fence folks fall on in terms of paying running backs in today’s NFL, Zeke is undoubtedly one of the very best players in the league. Elliott understands what he’s up against here with the Cowboys’ front office holding most of the cards but don’t fault the guy for doing whatever he can. The Cowboys may be able to keep the ship afloat without Elliott, they did win three of the six games he missed in 2017, but let’s not confuse getting by with being able to replace a talent like Elliott. There is no replacing Elliott’s abilities and it would take a stable of guys to supplement his loss.
The Cowboys offensive philosophy is completely tied to their offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott. For this offense to continue to grow, the Cowboys need all of their heavy machinery working in tandem. Ezekiel Elliott is a huge cog in this system along with Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. The NFL is a business that more often than not benefits it’s ownership, which is why any player should be encouraged to know their value and aim high in the negotiation process. For any balking at an asking price that starts and likely exceeds Todd Gurley’s price, the production certainly justifies Ezekiel Elliott side of the argument.