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Cowboys news: 53-man roster set; Ezekiel Elliott contract talks heating up

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The Cowboys officially have a team, and guess who might be back on it soon?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Minicamp Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Several Young Draft Picks Among Cowboys’ Cuts - David Helman, Dallas Cowboys

We all knew some difficult choices were coming, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.

The talk all offseason has been about this deep Cowboys roster, and the tough decisions that awaited. This year’s cuts are evidence of that, as the organization parted ways with several recent draft picks – including two from this most recent draft.

Mike Jackson and Mike Weber headline this year’s roster moves, as the rookie draft picks fell short in their bid for the 53-man roster. Seventh-round draft pick Jalen Jelks was also moved to injured reserve, effectively ending his season. They weren’t alone. The Cowboys also released Cedrick Wilson, Mike White, Chris Covington and Darius Jackson on Saturday afternoon. Noah Brown was also moved to the Physically Unable to Perform list while he continues to rehab a knee injury.

For those keeping score at home, that’s six recent draft picks released and two who are unavailable due to injury for a total of eight – three from the 2019 draft class, three from the 2018 draft class, one from 2017 and one from 2016.

Position Breakdown of Cowboys’ 53-Man Roster - Nick Eatman, Dallas Cowboys

Nick Eatman from the Mothership provides a position breakdown of the Cowboys new roster, including their new wide receiver group.

Wide Receiver (5)

This could always change, but as of Saturday, just five receivers made the team, including Devin Smith. While he began camp near the back of the group, the speedster just continued to make plays, leading the team in catches and yards in the preseason. Plus, his ability to cover kicks on special teams gave him added value. Smith joins a group of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb and Tavon Austin. Noah Brown and Jon’Vea Johnson were placed on injured reserve.

Cowboys’ RB Moves A Sign Of Zeke Progress? - Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys

Do the Cowboys decisions of who to keep at running back provide any indication that a deal for Ezekiel Elliott is coming soon?

Based on their initial 53-man roster, one could argue the Cowboys appear a bit thin at running back. Could they get a major boost soon?

Multiple reports Saturday say contract talks between the Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott’s camp are starting to progress as next Sunday’s season opener against the New York Giants looms. For now, Elliott remains on the Reserve/Did Not Report list as his contract holdout enters its fifth week.

The current running backs on the active roster after Saturday’s cuts: rookie Tony Pollard, veteran Alfred Morris and fullback Jamize Olawale, who’s versatile enough to handle carries if needed. The team waived Jordan Chunn, Darius Jackson and rookie Mike Weber. Last year, the team did go with two true running backs (Elliott, Rod Smith) for much of the season.

Sources: Cowboys’ talks with Zeke intensifying - Todd Archer, ESPN

One guy we’d love to have on that Cowboys roster is that guy who’s led the league in rushing in two of the last three seasons. And we might be in luck...

Talks between the Dallas Cowboys and running back Ezekiel Elliott are intensifying, with both sides aiming to wrap up a new deal this weekend, league sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott nearing agreement on new contract, All-Pro could report early ahead of Week 1 - Patrik Walker, CBS Sports

So, when is Zeke expected back? Patrik Walker has the low-down.

Sources with knowledge of the situation confirm Schefter’s report, and have affirmed to me for weeks that a deal would likely be done that ends the holdout prior to the regular-season opener against the New York Giants. Furthermore, I’ve been told the goal is for Elliott to return to the facility on Monday or Tuesday of next week, giving him ample time to get a full week of practice in before the Sept. 8. battle.

Walker also states in the video that the latest offer has him surpassing Todd Gurley in at least one or two categories.

‘He can’t and won’t miss them all:’ Jerry Jones speaks about Elliott, team after preseason finale - Jon Machota, The Athletic

Whether it was just a negotiating tactic or real talk, Jones painted the picture that life would have to go on without Zeke. That picture also include wagons, firewood, and floating down a river.

While he’d prefer to have Elliott back with the team and preparing for Week 1, Jones says he has accepted the idea that the Cowboys could be without their star running back to start the season because of his current contract holdout.

“I’m operating as though, right now, he’s going to miss regular-season games,” Jones said. “My entire expectation for what we’re putting together as a team right now would anticipate with him holding out and not having any training camp that he’s going to miss games. I just accept that.”

Doesn’t that change Jones’ expectations for this season?

“No, he can’t and won’t miss them all,” Jones responded. “And we’ll have to the extent – and we need Zeke. We’re a better team with Zeke, but we need to be able to win when we need to without players because of injuries, suspension or, in this case, holdout. But as I’ve said, this is a marathon. We have to, on the way to California, as [Barry] Switzer says, ‘We’ll have to burn some wagons for firewood, float the Mississippi River with some of the others, but we’ve got to get the train to California no matter who’s on it.’ So we’re headed out there.”

2019 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Resolution coming for Ezekiel Elliott, Melvin Gordon’s holdouts? - Chris Towers, CBS Sports

For any of those who have fantasy drafts this weekend, don’t let Zeke fall down your draft boards!

Forget Dallas; This is the news Fantasy players all around the country wanted. Even before this report, I was fine taking Elliott with the fourth overall pick in any draft. Now? Even though he’s unsigned, if you pick in the top four and let him slip to the No. 5 spot, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Heck, with signs pointing to him being there for Week 1, I wouldn’t blame you if you put Elliott back in the top spot on your draft board.

Breaking down the Cowboys’ 53-man roster: Dallas remains deep up front rather than pursue trade market - Michael Gehlken, Dallas Morning News

The Cowboys had chances trade off some of their depth to strengthen other areas, but they opted to hang on to them instead.

Made it: Linebacker Luke Gifford and the aforementioned Knight were the only undrafted rookies to make the Cowboys’ roster out of training camp. Gifford is still recovering from an Aug. 10 high ankle sprain, which he suffered during the first half of the preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers. He recorded an interception before the setback, which interrupted a camp during which he saw second-team reps. The Nebraska product won’t be available for the season opener. Knight, an offensive tackle in college at Indiana, earned a job following a successful transition to guard this offseason.