Has Ezekiel Elliott, one of the NFL’s highest-paid RBs, lost his relevancy in the Cowboys’ offense? - Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News
Is the star running back still a critical part of the offense’s overall success?
But when you watch Elliott, do your eyes tell you this is the best back in the league, a valuable investment next year with an appropriate cap hit of $13.7 million and then $16.5 million in 2022? Or do you wonder if he’s more of a luxury item, a nice and occasionally productive asset to go with a team that is determined to throw for 5,000 yards a season?
This all takes us back to the negotiating of 2019 when the Cowboys talked tough, when vice president Stephen Jones said they were determined to hold him to Le’Veon Bell’s contract and not Todd Gurley’s and then — before the season began — gave him more than either one. If you remember the opponents on Dallas’ schedule last September, the Cowboys could have forced Zeke’s hand and almost certainly won those early games against New York and Washington and Miami to drive him into signing at a lower figure. Maybe it’s to their credit that they didn’t play hardball with one of their best players.
Spitting some truth about the disappointing 1-3 start.
So, to recap… In the last 20 seasons, the Cowboys have posted a negative turnover margin 11 times. They missed the playoffs all but once: Bill Parcells' first year as head coach in 2003.
In the last 20 seasons, the Cowboys have had a positive turnover margin eight times and made the playoffs all but twice. The two years they didn't, 2011 and 2013, they had a chance to clinch a spot in the season finale and lost.
2010 was the last time the Cowboys started a season 1-3. That year they finished with an even turnover margin. But during their 1-3 start? Minus-4. It's the single biggest reason for 1-3 this year, too. They need more takeaways, and they need to protect the rock. This stat doesn't lie.
Some much needed reinforcements may be on the way.
Gregory is on the commissioner's exempt list as he works back from a suspension that has kept him off the field since a 2018 playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Wednesday will be his first on-field work with the team. He was conditionally reinstated last month, but he has only been able to take part in meetings and work out. Mike McCarthy said he is "very anxious," to see what Gregory, who had six sacks in 2018, can do. A series of violations of the substance abuse policy and injuries led Gregory, a second-round pick in 2015, to miss 56 of a potential 84 regular-season games.
"Just heard a lot about him from [executives Jerry and Stephen Jones], and so just excited for him for everything he has gone through to get to this point and prepare himself," McCarthy said. "I think everybody, to a man, is excited to see him take that first step." Vander Esch, Dallas' starting middle linebacker, suffered a broken collarbone in the first quarter of the season-opening loss to the Rams. He had surgery and was placed on injured reserve, but sources said the healing has gone well.
McCarthy was not sure if Vander Esch would do anything but rehab work off to the side on Wednesday. While he is likely not going to play this week, he could be back for the Oct. 19 game against the Arizona Cardinals on ESPN's Monday Night Football.
The rookie wideout has been one bright spot in this poor start to the season.
When the Cowboys visited the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1, Lamb wasted no time making an impact. On the Cowboys second possession of the game, Lamb caught his first NFL pass that went for 33 yards which set up the team’s first touchdown of the game. He would finish with five receptions for 59 yards on six targets. Quite the start wouldn’t you say? Well, Lamb himself thought there was a lot more he could’ve done in his NFL debut.
“Honestly, I’m not really too pleased with myself or my performance,” Lamb said. I feel like there’s a lot more stuff that I left on the table. I could have played a lot faster. I could have done a lot of things better to be a better option and better target for Dak.”
The Cowboy’s next opponent was the Atlanta Falcons and the rookie sensation would take what he did in Week 1 to the next level. With the Cowboys facing a 2nd and 10 from their own 46, Lamb caught an out route for 24 yards down to the 30 which set up Greg Zuerlein’s game-winning field goal from 46 yards out.
Could some bad contracts prevent Dallas from keeping Dak Prescott long-term?
It was reported the Cowboys offered Prescott a contract of five years with guarantees of $110 million. Those numbers were very similar to the extension Jared Goff, who was the top overall pick in the same class as Prescott, signed with the Los Angeles Rams. But that was not enough for Prescott. After the contract extensions of both Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, the market has changed since Prescott last continued his contract negotiations. As of right now, Spotrac predicts Prescott would command a 5-year, $189 million deal on the open market. That would pay him an average of $37.8 million per season, which is right around the price of a second franchise tag—in contract form, it secures him at that rate for much longer.
But can the Cowboys even afford Prescott anymore? In 2019, they signed running back Ezekiel Elliott, pass-rusher Demarcus Lawrence, and linebacker Jaylon Smith to massive extensions. In 2020, they did the same for wide receiver Amari Cooper. How much is left in the bank for Prescott?
As of right now, the Cowboys have $24 million in cap space. That’s with Prescott on the books at $31.4 million with his franchise tag. So, in theory, one would think they have the space to get between $40-45 million per year, even with the stars they’ve signed. But the problem is, the effects of the coronavirus could take a massive hit to the salary cap.
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