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Cowboys news: All smiles as Cowboys now have Ezekiel Elliott ready to roll in week one

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Cowboys have their best player signed and back on the field prior to week one kick off.

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

How ‘Zeke Watch’ Wrapped Up With A Big Laugh- Rob Phillips-DallasCowboys.com
The Cowboys got their deal with Ezekiel Elliott done and now it's time to focus on the football field.

Proof: the t-shirt Elliott and Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones held up at the conclusion of Thursday’s press conference formally announcing the Pro Bowl running back’s new six-year extension.

Front: “Zeke Who?”

Back: “That’s Who!”

Laughter erupted inside a packed room here at The Star in Frisco. The shirt served its apparent purpose: It diffused any perceived tension between the two sides as Elliott skipped training camp in the hopes of expediting a new long-term deal. It’s a reference, of course, to Jones’ “Zeke who?” quip last month to reporters when asked about rookie running back Tony Pollard’s impressive preseason play.

The quote was made purely in jest, and in full context, Jones went on to say that Pollard simply would be a strong complementary piece to Elliott once the team’s star rusher returned.

Cowboys officially ink Zeke, turn attention to Dak -Todd Archer- ESPN
The Cowboys have given new deals to lineman DeMarcus Lawrence, linebacker Jaylon Smith, right tackle La'el Collins and running back Ezekiel Elliott, and have now turned their attention to quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper.

The team hopes to deliver more guaranteed money on long-term deals with quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper -- and they hope it can happen before Sunday’s season opener against the New York Giants, while acknowledging it might be difficult.

”Don’t ever say never,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “The season doesn’t start until Sunday. We still got three or four days here. Obviously we’ve ended up signing a few players we didn’t necessarily know we were going to sign, but at the same time, I certainly felt optimistic that we can get these guys. Whether it’s by the start of the season or if it goes over that, it does. That was our goal. Sometimes you don’t get it quite done on the exact timing that you had hoped, but obviously the ultimate goal is to get them signed.”

Jerry Jones on Ezekiel Elliott: I’ll go to the mat with Zeke. He’s that important to us. -RJ Ochoa- Blogging The Boys
Jerry Jones had a lot to say on Thursday.

Jerry joked that he spent his time at Wall Street on Wednesday in order to “get his finances in order” in preparation for Zeke’s new deal, but then things got serious and he heaped praise on the highest-paid running back in the NFL.

He talked about how he believes the Cowboys can “go to the house” with Zeke and that it was obviously important to have him under contract for the season opener, but he made sure to re-emphasize how much he supports Elliott.

”I’ll go to the mat with Zeke. He’s that important to us.”

Overall it was a shorter press conference than we saw from Jaylon Smith a few weeks ago with Jerry Jones doing a majority of the talking. Again, shocker.

Negotiations between Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott got ugly. Could same happen with Prescott or Cooper? –Jon Machota- The Athletic
Prescott and Cooper are expected to sign extensions. But yesterday Zeke talked about his deal, and his training in Mexico.

The Cowboys’ star back was fresh off signing a six-year, $90 million contract extension that guaranteed him $50 million. There were just too many reporters wanting to hear from the highest-paid running back in NFL history after a negotiation that grew far more complicated than expected.

So Elliott stood on a small podium outside of the locker room, his back against a gray wall with about 40 members of the media surrounding him.

He fielded questions for 13 minutes.

Elliott said it was important for his new deal to make him the highest-paid running back, surpassing the four-year, $57.5 million ($45 million guaranteed) contract Todd Gurley signed with the Rams last summer.

Why?

“Because I believe I’m the best,” Elliott said.

Being in Cabo San Lucas and away from his teammates for over 40 days made him feel isolated.

“Ate about the same food every day,” Elliott said of his steady diet of habanero shrimp, grilled chicken wings and chicken caesar salads. “Things got old real quick. It was just mentally draining.”

Despite investment in Ezekiel Elliott, Jerry Jones has made sure Cowboys can still pay Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper- David Moore-Sportsday DFW
Jerry Jones has made sure Cowboys can still pay Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper even with the Zeke contract.

Can he keep it up?

The short answer is yes. What Jones has spent to this point won’t make it more difficult to retain quarterback Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. Before we dive deeper into the economics here, let’s go back to the owner’s stance on this team.

Could Jones have taken a tougher stand on Elliott? Sure. The club didn’t want the running back’s average to climb to $15 million. Elliott has two years left on his contract. The Cowboys could have adopted the take it or leave it approach the LA Chargers have with Melvin Gordon, who remains a holdout.

Would you feel better about the Cowboys and this season then?

Jones has shown throughout his professional life that he’s not risk averse. He takes more risks than most. There are countless examples.

Jones could have stood firm and potentially squeezed a few more dollars out of what Elliott received. But he wasn’t willing to gamble with the expectations and hope of this season. He didn’t want a repeat of 2018, when the season nearly got away from the Cowboys with their receiver by committee approach in the wake of Dez Bryant’s release.

If the Cowboys hadn’t given up a first round pick to acquire Cooper from Oakland, what would this group look like now?

Contract breakdown: Three reasons why the Ezekiel Elliott deal works out great for the Dallas Cowboys-DannyPhantom- Blogging The Boys
The front office of the Dallas Cowboys should be applauded for the deal they worked out with Ezekiel Elliott. Here are three things about his contract that should make Cowboys fans really happy.

Reason #2 The Cowboys have an easy out after four years

We all know Zeke’s great, and now he’s getting paid like one of those special running backs. But what if he’s not so special a few years down the road? A player like Adrian Peterson had the resiliency to where he didn’t drop below 200 carries until he was 29 years old, but those types of players are anomalies these days. There is no guarantee that Elliott is also one of those exceptions to the rule that isn’t impacted by that running back wall we keep hearing about.

Looking at how the contract is structured, the Cowboys have themselves a built-in escape hatch.

Writer's Blocks: Prayers Up For No Drama As Ezekiel Elliott Is Signed - David Helman- DallasCowboys.com

It’s pretty impressive that he actually got himself a deal, though.

If they had wanted to, the Cowboys probably could have played hardball. They could have leaned on Tony Pollard and Alfred Morris. The results might not have been as good, but they could have strung this thing out until Elliott showed up. On his previous salary, he would have missed roughly a quarter million dollars per week by holding out.

Regardless of how committed he was, I have my doubts Elliott would have continued to take those losses for more than a handful of games.

It feels telling that the Cowboys didn’t want to play that game – and I think there are a couple of reasons as to why.

Firstly, now’s not the time to rock the boat. The Cowboys have a roster that can contend in the NFC right now. The way this thing is structured, I think they have two or three years where they can take some serious swings at winning a sixth championship. That wasn’t going to happen if they played chicken with their best player.

Troy Aikman shares his thoughts on Ezekiel Elliott's new contract, why this year's Cowboys team could be 'special'- Alaina Getzenberg- Sportsday DFW
Troy Aikman shares his thoughts on Ezekiel Elliott's new contract as he says 2019 can be 'special year' for Cowboys.

As for what realistic expectations on the field might look like for this team, Aikman pointed to the notion that outside of Texas, not many people believe in the Cowboys.

”The consensus (in Texas) is how talented this team is, the most talented they’ve been in so long, the best chance the Cowboys have had to go to the Super Bowl in 20 years,” Aikman said. “I think on a national level, I don’t know that the optimism is quite as high. I think generally people think this team is capable of being really good. There’s a tendency to look at the Cowboys over the totality of the last 20 years and say, ‘well it’s a .500 club.’ People just tend to think they’re going to fall back to the average.”

As for Aikman?

”I do know that this is a team that Jason Garrett loves,” Aikman said. “He likes the way this team has been put together and the type of players that they have, and I think there’s something to be said for that. I think those things do matter, it goes beyond talent to win at the highest level. And then with the makeup of the players themselves, I think it has the making for something that could be really special.”

Cooper-Gallup pairing may be on verge of Theilen-Diggs symmetry-Burke Downer-CowboysWire
Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are poised to breakout in 2019 .

Cooper is the fluid, supremely talented route runner who will carve up defenses creating the ultra-desirable big-window targets that quarterbacks love to throw into. Gallup has premium height, speed and downfield ball skills. Both players and their inherent skills sets are valuable, especially when paired together. As a duo, the pair seems to resemble another highly productive tandem, Minnesota’s Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.

Following an in-season trade, Cooper played 11 games with the Cowboys in 2018, during which he hauled in 66 passes for 896 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Extrapolated over a 16-game season and Cooper’s looking at 96 catches for 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns. Not too shabby. A close 2018 comparison to that in 2018 is the Vikings’ Thielen, who like Cooper is also a highly regarded route-runner. Thielen had 113 catches, 1,373 yards and a nine touchdowns in 2018.

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