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The Ezekiel Elliott contract numbers look great for both Zeke and the Cowboys

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The details of the Ezekiel Elliot contract.

NFL: SEP 30 Lions at Cowboys Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Wednesday Ezekiel Elliott signed a contract extension with the Dallas Cowboys that makes him the highest-paid running back in NFL history. That is objectively true.

The thing about NFL contracts, though, is that they can often be deceiving. So much of what’s important lies in the details, the guarantees, and when they become guaranteed, and that’s why you ultimately have to wait until all of the information is out before you jump to conclusions.

ESPN’s Todd Archer reported on Elliott’s contract details on Wednesday afternoon and you’re likely going to be pleased with them.

Ezekiel Elliott Extension

Season Elliott Age Entering Base Salary
Season Elliott Age Entering Base Salary
2019 24 $752,137
2020 25 $6.8M
2021 26 $9.6M
2022 27 $12.4M
2023 28 $10.9M
2024 29 $10M
2025 30 $15.4M
2026 31 $16.6M
  • $7.5M signing bonus with a $13M option bonus in 2020

The narrative is that the Cowboys caved, right? Elliott got his $90M deal with $50M guaranteed, but so much of what’s important lies in one particular detail.

Note: The first two years of the deal are fully guaranteed, totaling $28 million at signing. The base salaries in 2021 and 2022 become fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the league years in 2020 and 2021.

This gives the Cowboys potential outs much sooner than the deal would suggest. In fact, as Spotrac noted, the Cowboys can get out of this deal after 2022. That would be Elliott’s age 27 season when, barring injury, should still be operating at his prime.

Ezekiel Elliott deserves to be paid top dollar, after all he is the best running back in the NFL. But the Cowboys deserve, in their minds and the minds of many, to feel like they got a win, and theirs is the ability for an early exit. The deal is, as many have noted, essentially a four-year deal for $50M.

This is rare in sports but this Elliott deal truly does feel like a win-win for both parties. Zeke gets his payday, is regarded as the highest-paid running back in the league, and gets to continue to hopefully have success behind one of the more dominant offensive lines in the NFL. That’s a win for him.

The Cowboys get their win in that they get to benefit from Elliott’s on-field success plus keep themselves in a position to protect the financial state of their team as life moves on and Elliott gets older. They’re paying a premium right now, but they’ll likely be getting a premium result while they do so.