When he decided to holdout, Ezekiel Elliott showed he had great confidence in himself. After signing an extension he confirmed this belief when asked why it was important to be the highest paid running back.hen asked wh
“Because I believe I’m the best,” he said.
That’s hard to argue given Elliott’s three-year credentials. He has led the NFL in rushing in two of his first three seasons with the Cowboys, and he still finished in the top 10 in 2017 despite serving a six-game suspension that he contested for a good portion of that season.
The reward came at a temporary price: He made the “super hard” decision to train away from his teammates the last five weeks while talks continued between the Cowboys and his agent, Rocky Arceneaux. “Just not being there. Where I was, I was isolated,” Elliott said. “I ate about the same food every day and things got old real quick. It was just mentally draining.”
Elliott’s teammates supported him throughout the process and gave him a warm welcome Wednesday. Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones and chief operating officer Stephen Jones were in New York for meetings Wednesday morning, but Elliott thanked them for making the deal happen.
5 thoughts after Cowboys make Zeke Elliott top-paid RB in NFL - Dave Zangaro, NBC Sports Philadelphia
Some prospective on the Ezekiel Elliott deal and what is could mean for the Dallas Cowboys in the near future.
1. Paying a running back $100 million is certainly risky, especially when the Cowboys are going to have to give out another $100 million to the guy who hands him the ball. But we’ll get to that in a second. The question here: Is Zeke worth this much money? It’s hard to find an answer. It’s clear he’s a special player. He has over 5,000 yards from scrimmage in his first three years (just 11 players in NFL history had more than him at this point in his career). But Elliott plays a position that has become devalued in many ways in the modern NFL. The drop-off in play and production from a player getting paid mega money to a guy getting paid peanuts isn’t as drastic as at other positions.
It’s also fair to wonder if the Cowboys have to now change the way they use him. Since Elliott came in the league, he has 1,003 touches, the most in the NFL during that span. He has more touches than Todd Gurley in five fewer games. And while there’s a chance Elliott remains healthy and productive during the span of this contract, just look at the situation the Rams are in with Gurley. Elliott will be 32 when this extension runs out.
Ezekiel Elliott Deal May Be Only the Start of Headaches for Cowboys, Jerry Jones - Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report
Ezekiel Elliott’s extension is a good thing for the Dallas Cowboys, but it may be the domino that kicks off a series of difficult situations that Dallas must deal with in the near future.
Dallas might be the most talented team in football, especially on offense. Now that Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys have finally agreed to a new six-year, $90 million deal (as first reported by ESPN's Todd Archer), no one should be stunned if they reach the Super Bowl this year. They are that good. This is wonderful news if you're a Cowboys fan.
But the franchise also has a huge problem. A potentially catastrophic one. There's no way the Cowboys can pay all of their stars and maintain the depth of talent they have. It's impossible. Just since April, Archer noted, the Cowboys have agreed to $309 million in new deals. There's Elliott. There's pass-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, who threatened to sit out this season before he was rewarded with a five-year deal at $105 million (with $65 million guaranteed). There's linebacker Jaylon Smith, who re-signed for five years and $64 million ($35.5 million guaranteed). Then there's offensive tackle La'el Collins, who signed a five-year, $50 million deal with $35 million guaranteed.
And now there's still the not-small matter of trying to lock up Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper.
There are many winners from the Zeke deal, including number 21.
Yeah, the fans win as well. They get the best player on their favorite team right before the season starts. How about the fantasy football players who went ahead and picked Zeke high in the draft just hoping he would come around in time? They won.
And even Tony Pollard is a winner here. He got to take first-team reps and shined bright, giving the team confidence in him that might not have happened in another scenario. All of them can be considered winners here. But no one wins this thing more than Zeke – and not just because he has $50 million now in his pocket.
The Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott just elevated the pressure on OC Kellen Moore to extraordinary levels - Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News
With Zeke back in the building, loads of pressure falls squarely on offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to make sure the Dallas offense succeeds.
Ultimately, paying Elliott more in guaranteed money than the Rams' Todd Gurley received a year ago was bound to happen. In Zeke's case, he won this showdown in a landslide by remaining silent while missing camp, working out in Cabo and finally flying home to sign on the dotted line just in time for Wednesday's first practice to prepare for the New York Giants. He can now answer Jerry's playful question of "Zeke who?" with "$90 million Zeke, that's who."
Whether the NFL's leading rusher in 2016 and 2018 truly hits the ground running after not taking a single hit in the preseason remains to be seen. He was not at his best in the first game of his record-setting rookie season after barely seeing action that summer. Being physically fit is different from being equipped to handle the ball 20 times, pick up blitzing linebackers and do all the rest that his job entails.
But no one expects him to play poorly Sunday, and now there are literally millions of reasons for this offense to be expected to perform at a top-five level. If it can't, blame will unfairly fall on the shoulders of the young Moore. But for now, the Jones family is ridding the offense of excuses while straining the limits on their beloved "pie" that they contended was shrinking a week ago after the Jaylon Smith contract extension.
For the Dallas Cowboys to make a deep postseason run this season, they need their offense to play up to their potential.
It’s not exactly a mystery how the Cowboys excelled with a rookie quarterback in 2016. The offensive line bullied everyone. Prescott was sacked just 25 times all season and Elliott had room to pile up 1,631 rushing yards. It’s the only time in the last four seasons a running back topped 1,600 yards.
Losing Ronald Leary and Doug Free in free agency caused the unit to take a step back in 2017, but it was still great. But in 2018, the Dallas offensive line was just average, at best. Prescott was sacked 56 times — second most in the NFL — and Elliott wasn’t nearly as effective at punching in touchdowns near the goal line. In 2016, he scored seven touchdowns on 11 rushing attempts from inside the 5-yard line. That total dropped to just two touchdowns on 10 carries in the same situation in 2018.
Health played a factor in the decline. Tyron Smith has missed three games in each of the last three seasons, and Zack Martin dealt with knee issues in 2018. Frederick missed all of last season after he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. All those players are set to return in 2019, and the Cowboys added more depth by picking Connor Williams and Connor McGovern in Day 2 of the last two drafts.
A return to form is certainly possible for the Dallas offensive line. The troubling part for the Cowboys, though, is that it appears as though success on offense is entirely dependent on it.
Who should the Cowboys be worried about when facing the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon?
Nemesis: TE Evan Engram Evan Engram will not be an easy matchup for Kris Richard and Rod Marinelli to prepare for. Like Saquon Barkley, they will need a special plan for Engram to eliminate him from the game. My gut feeling is that they would like to treat him like a receiver and cover him that way, but they could always lean on Jeff Heath.
Heath has done a nice job during his career of dealing with Zach Ertz and Jordan Reed. He has matched up well when it comes to the physical elements these tight ends bring to the game. Heath has never backed down from a challenge. His fourth down stop against Ertz last season likely won the division for the Cowboys.
With all that being said, it would not surprise me one bit to see the staff mix some coverages on Engram. These coaches don’t want to give him or Eli Manning the same look or read. By mixing those looks, it will create doubt or affect adjustments to their game plan.
Check out BTB’s conversation with DeMarcus Ware in our latest podcast.
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Also check out our celebration that Zeke is back on the BTB YouTube Channel!