Ezekiel Elliott's future with the Dallas Cowboys organization has become a widely debated subject. Everyone knows how good of a running back he is. Not only is he one of the best in the game right now, he has the potential to end up in the Hall of Fame. He's obviously not even close yet, but once he hangs up his cleats, who knows who will we call the greatest running back in Cowboys history?
Although the debate is about signing or not signing Zeke to a long-term extension, it doesn't revolve around how great of a player he is. That much should be clear. All the analysts and fans that think the team shouldn't pay him big time money don't believe so because they think Elliott is bad or not good enough. Of course not.
The discussion is rather about the value of running backs in the NFL. A completely valid argument, given the proven history of how running backs' careers can be shorter than the rest, thanks to the continuous workload they receive. Even more when it's about guys like Elliott who get tons of touches year in and year out.
There are good and bad arguments on both sides, but one that's tossed around very often by the "Pay Zeke" team is how the the team fared during his absence in 2017. As you might remember, Ezekiel Elliott was suspended six games that season. In that stretch, the Cowboys went 3-3, turned the ball over ten times and struggled badly.
Dak Prescott threw five touchdowns and seven interceptions, averaged only 191 yards per game and was sacked 17 times. He also fumbled the ball three times. That was tough, remember?
For many, this is enough to say the Cowboys can't be successful without Ezekiel Elliott. However, this argument is, at best, incomplete.
First of all, we cannot pretend like the Cowboys didn't have another important member of the offense missing. Tyron Smith missed a couple of games during that stretch, including the infamous game versus the Atlanta Falcons in which Prescott was brought down eight times. With Smith, the Cowboys went 3-1 during Elliott's time away. Zeke wasn't the only absence.
But that's not even the most important thing. At the time, the Cowboys had no starting-caliber talent at the position other than Zeke.
I asked @Melvingordon25 his message to those who devalue #NFL RBs, and fail to separate good ones from elite ones when it's time for contract talks: "You see what happened when @EzekielElliott was out." #Chargers #Cowboys
So even though Melvin Gordon (who's looking for a big time deal with the L.A. Chargers and speaking up for running backs' value) and many others have commented on how the Cowboys did when Zeke was out, that doesn't tell the story of how life without Elliott would really be.
At the time, Alfred Morris, Rod Smith and Darren McFadden were the team's backup running backs. A solid group of backups? Maybe, maybe not. But none of them were starting caliber. If the Cowboys were to let Zeke walk in the future, they would obviously fill the position with either another three-down RB or get a couple of solid players to work with a RB committee.
They would work with better players than they did when Elliott was away in 2017.
The real question is how would the offense fare with a non-elite running back, but a good or two starting ones? In 2017, they didn't have that when Zeke was out.
The Cowboys wouldn't settle to work with Zeke's current backups. They'd find someone else. They wouldn't "find another Ezekiel Elliott" because that would be very hard to do, but college football produces tons of quality running backs every year. The front office could find one by the time Zeke's contract expired if they wished to do so.
Look at the amount of NFL teams that have success without elite running backs. There are plenty. I'm a huge Ezekiel Elliott fan, and I'd love for him to stay in the long term, but there's no way I believe the Cowboys would do so bad if he doesn't.
There are many arguments to pay Ezekiel Elliott, but how the team did without him in 2017 isn't the correct one.
Report: Amari Cooper Likely out for the Rest of the Preseason
Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Amari Cooper is likely out for the remainder of the preseason according to ESPN's Todd Archer. He is currently dealing with a form of plantar fasciitis that has kept him out of practice since August 6th.
The three-time pro bowler changed life in Dallas last season as the team went 7-2 in it's final nine games after he was acquired to win the NFC East. Cooper isn't worried about any long term effects, though, as this is something he's familiar with.
"I'm not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger, it doesn't matter," Cooper said. "I had 1,000 yards when I played on plantar fasciitis before."
The Cowboys host the Houston Texans this Saturday in what is known as the "dress rehearsal" game before the regular season. Starters normally play about a half of football to get the juices flowing for when games really count in September. Ideally, the plan would be for Cooper and Dak Prescott to get a rhythm of sorts before the season starts but that will have to wait until the team prepares to take on the New York Giants on September 8th.
However, the good thing here is this issue doesn't seem to be serious and Cooper will be ready for the start of the 2019 season.
Report: Cowboys Agree To Contract Extension With LB Jaylon Smith
The Cowboys are neck-deep in contract negotiations with some of their team's most important players, but it appears they have gotten one key guy signed this afternoon.
ESPN's Todd Archer is reporting that the Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with middle linebacker Jaylon Smith, though the exact terms of the contract have yet to be announced.
The Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with linebacker Jaylon Smith, according to sources. Smith was set to be a restricted free agent after this season but the Cowboys and his representatives started talks in the spring and they ramped up once camp began. Smith, a...
Of course, the Cowboys drafted Jaylon Smith early in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft despite the horrific leg injury he suffered in Notre Dame's college bowl game. Some didn't think Smith would ever recover to be the same player he once was, but in 2018 Smith emerged as an excellent middle linebacker once again. Smith finished the 2018 season with 121 combined tackles and 4 sacks, and has looked just as imposing thus far in the preseason.
Smith regained his athleticism and sideline to sideline speed, while retaining his impressive hit power and sound tackling to become one of the league's best. Combining Smith with Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys have put together arguably the best linebacker group in the NFL.
And now, there's no end in sight for the dynamic duo.
Report: 2 Dallas Cowboys to be Activated off of P.U.P. List
Per a report from ESPN's Todd Archer, the Dallas Cowboys will soon activate Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence off of the Physically Unable to Perform (P.U.P.) List.
"The Cowboys are planning to activate defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford from the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday, according to a source. They will work through individual drills in their first steps on the field before going through full practices. Lawrence had shoulder surgery not long after signing a five-year, $101 million contract in April. Crawford has been working his way through a hip issue that kept him out of the offseason program. Safety Byron Jones (hip) and receiver Noah Brown (knee) remain on PUP."
Todd Archer - ESPN.com
This report comes after DeMarcus Lawrence had offseason shoulder surgery in April and signed his five-year deal making him the highest-paid player in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, at least for now. It looks as if Lawrence will be ready for a week one return.
It's long been believed that Lawrence would be available for week one of the regular season and hasn't suffered any setbacks to this point that should lead you to believe otherwise. With Robert Quinn suspended for the first two games of the regular season and Randy Gregory's status still up in the air (he still hasn't applied for reinstatement), getting Lawrence and Crawford back for the first two weeks of the season becomes instrumental.
The Dallas Cowboys defensive line has looked really good through the first two games of the preseason, but as good as they've been, they'll need Lawrence and Crawford once the regular season starts. Lawrence will slot back in as the left defensive end and Tyrone Crawford will split snaps at right defensive end with Dorance Armstrong and 3-technique defensive tackle with Maliek Collins, Trysten Hill, and Kerry Hyder.
While the additions of DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford will help the defense tremendously, there still isn't a timeline on the return of Pro Bowl Cornerback Byron Jones. Jones has been out since having hip surgery this offseason.
With as good as the Dallas Cowboys defense has looked this offseason, there's reason to believe that they can be even better once each of these guys are back in the lineup full-time. For a defense that was one of the 10 best defenses in the NFL in 2019, they'll need Lawrence, Crawford, and Jones to make the jump into the elite stratosphere of NFL defenses.
With the Dallas Cowboys' eyes set on capturing that sixth Lombardi Trophy, getting Lawrence and Crawford back in time to be ready for the regular season is vital to starting the 2019 season off right.
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