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Dallas Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott Saga: How Did We Get Here?

John Williams



Ezekiel Elliott, Jerry Jones

Today by 4 pm, the Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the NFL will have to trim their rosters down to 53 players. It's unlikely that we'll see any surprise cuts made today, but as week one approaches, one of the biggest names on the team is unlikely to be with the Dallas Cowboys when they begin preparations for their week one matchup with the New York Giants; Running Back Ezekiel Elliott.

Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys are in the midst of a stand-off that started in the early stages of the offseason and has now lasted the entirety of training camp as Elliott seeks to become the highest-paid running back in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys, though they've made it clear they want to extend Elliott are attempting to be wise with how they allocate money to their star running back.

Over the past several months, the two sides have given not so subtle hints at what each is attempting to accomplish in a contract extension for Elliott. At this point, the two sides are still are far enough apart that the lack of a deal is going to keep Ezekiel Elliott from playing in week one. The longer it takes the Dallas Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott to come to an agreement on a contract extension, the more contentious these negotiations appear to be getting; at least in public.

Part of what could be stalling negotiations is perhaps the change in attitude the Dallas Cowboys have had toward paying Ezekiel Elliott top of the market money.

Back in February, Stephen Jones told Jon Machota -- now of The Athletic -- that the contract extension Todd Gurley received in the 2018 offseason would be a factor in the negotiations with Elliott.

“We’ve got it budgeted that we’re going to pay Zeke a significant contract at some point. We certainly saw what Gurley got paid and we know that’s probably where it starts, and we’ll go from there.”

Stephen Jones via Jon Machota of The Athletic

Perhaps Stephen Jones was speaking out of turn or perhaps he anticipated the contract negotiations really heating up in the 2020 offseason when Elliott would have just one more season on his rookie contract. Either way, that quote likely created some expectation that the Dallas Cowboys were prepared to pony up big money for Ezekiel Elliott's new contract extension.

But even in early May in an interview with Pro Football Talk, Stephen Jones doubled-down on the idea of locking up Elliott when he said, "He’s the straw, if you will, that stirs our drink. He’s a key part of what we’re about." Jones went on to say, "he’s a priority in terms of ultimately getting him signed."

As training camp approached the front office and coaching staff was under the impression that Elliott was going to be joining the team in Oxnard when they opened training camp, even as reports began to surface that Elliott was planning on holding out. Even at the opening press conference, Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Jason Garrett weren't alarmed by the fact that Elliott had yet to report to camp and instead reiterated that he wouldn't officially be late until the next day when players had to report for physicals.

Now, whether that was them attempting to maintain their relationship with Ezekiel Elliott by not throwing him under the bus in a press conference covered by every major media outlet or that they actually expected him to be available at the start of training camp, the Cowboys brass gave no indication that a holdout was looming. They weren't alarmed by the fact that Elliott hadn't reported yet and sounded optimistic that the front office and Elliott's representatives would be able to work things out and get him into training camp. But, obviously, that hasn't happened.

In August, with training camp a little over a week underway, there was a bit of a heel turn when Stephen Jones attempted to walk back his comments from February. Jones was now saying Le'Veon Bell's new contract with the New York Jets is what set the running back market, not Gurley's record-setting deal. He added when speaking with 105.3 The Fan then, that they felt their offer was "very generous." Of course what the front office considers generous and what the player considers generous is certainly in the eye of the beholder.

Having heard Stephen Jones say that Gurley was the starting point for Elliott's contract and then bringing it down to Bell's deal, it's easy to see how that could create some confusion and perhaps frustration on Elliott's side of things. If you've ever been in a negotiation with someone who tells you one price that you're content paying and then comes back to you later to change the price, it's frustrating.

That's exactly how Andy Bernard lost the Scranton White Pages. 

After making it public that Gurley was the starting point in Ezekiel Elliott's negotiations, I'm sure Elliott and his representatives thought it would mean Elliott would become the highest-paid running back in the NFL. At least that could have been their understanding of where negotiations were heading. Then in August, with Elliott's holdout already more than a week in, Stephen Jones was telling another story. If I were Elliott and his representatives, I'd be frustrated as well after hearing Stephen Jones come at the negotiations from a totally different perspective.

Since Stephen Jones' comments about where the market should be for Ezekiel Elliott's contract extension in early August, the Cowboys have gradually increased their offers to Elliott. On August 22nd, it was reported by Ed Werder of ESPN that the Dallas Cowboys had made Elliott an offer that was more than Le'Veon Bell's but not quite as rich as Todd Gurley's. The offer would make Ezekiel Elliott the second-highest-paid running back in the NFL.

Ed Werder on Twitter

Sources: The most recent offer in negotiations between holdout Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys came from the team. Elliott has been offered a contract making him one of the NFL's 2 highest-paid RB. That would suggest team offering more than LeVeon Bell and less than Todd Gurley.

There's no telling exactly where the two sides are at this point with Stephen Jones stating they aren't close to getting a deal done because "there's not a lot of activity." Of course, Jones also admits that contracts can be finalized pretty quickly when both sides are communicating and motivated enough to get something done.

The lack of movement on a deal might have led to some frustration out of Elliott's camp when Jaylon Smith received his contract extension last week. NFL Hall of Famer and former TV Analyst Marshall Faulk -- who's been working out with Ezekiel Elliott in Cabo -- shared some hot takes after the Dallas Cowboys announced a contract extension with Jaylon Smith.

Appearing on the Dan Patrick Show, Marshall Faulk had this to say:

"If you think about this. And I'm not counting another man's money. But if you think about what Jaylon Smith did and what he got compared to to what Zeke has done and what he's asking for... it's not even close. It's not even close! They drafted a linebacker in the first round last year. If they thought so much of Jaylon, I mean you draft another linebacker in the first round?"

Marshall Faulk on the Dan Patrick Show via RJ Ochoa

Faulk then proclaimed that after Dak Prescott gets his contract that he'll be a "bum."

It's hard to say what Faulk or Elliott's camp was hoping to gain from the media storm that the former NFL running back created earlier this week, but whatever it was likely didn't endear Elliott to Cowboys' fans or his teammates. Aside from Marshall Faulk's obviously flawed logic with regard to the Dallas Cowboys' rationale for drafting Leighton Vander Esch, it seems bad for business and bad for a Elliott's relationships with teammates for someone close to Elliott to say the things Faulk said. Whenever Elliott does join the team, it's reasonable to wonder how much the nature of these comments -- and the holdout -- will affect how Elliott is viewed in the locker room.

Ezekiel Elliott's goal all along has been to come out of these negotiations with the richest running back contract in the NFL history. In order to accomplish that goal, he looks prepared to miss games to prove that point.

Ed Werder on Twitter

I asked @marshallfaulk whether he believes @EzekielElliott is willing to miss games in effort to become #NFL's highest-paid running back. Faulk: "The question is, are the Cowboys willing to have him miss games because they don't believe he should be the highest paid RB?

While the average annual salary is one of the numbers the two sides are looking at, it's most likely the guaranteed money that is the sticking point (as it typically is in the NFL where contracts aren't 100% guaranteed). Whatever it is, it doesn't appear that a resolution is coming soon as the two sides continue to work the media to assert pressure in the negotiations.

Jerry Jones speaking to Ben and Skin on 105.3 The Fan yesterday admitted he expects Ezekiel Elliott to miss some games. Jones comments make it highly unlikely Elliott suits up for the Dallas Cowboys' week one contest against the New York Giants. It's not unreasonable to think he sits out several games to start the season. How many games quickly becomes the question?

While there's obvious interest from both sides to get a deal done, the Dallas Cowboys are preparing for life without Ezekiel Elliott. Because of course, they are. They have a game to get ready for in eight days and the New York Giants don't care if Ezekiel Elliott is on the field or not. They're out there to try and beat whatever iteration of the Dallas Cowboys happens to show up next Sunday. In a next-man-up world, the Dallas Cowboys have to be ready to roll with Tony Pollard as their starting running back in the event the Dallas Cowboys and Elliott haven't reached a contract resolution by then.

Jerry Jones put it this way when talking to Ben and Skin of 105.3 The Fan on Friday:

Zeke is an outstanding player, and arguably right there with our best players. But no on egives up in any way, especially with the talented group that we have... No one without one player believes that's terminal as far as us having a great year. As a matter of fact, it's just the opposite. Don't tellJason Witten that if somebody gets hurt or somebody get suspended that our chances of winning a Super Bowl have gone."

Jerry Jones on 105.3 The Fan on the Ben and Skin Show

Jones goes on to make the point that you don't have to have the NFL's leading rusher to win a Super Bowl and that they haven't won one with Elliott in the first three years of his career.

Ezekiel Elliott missing games is by no means the end of the story. As Ian Rapoport, of NFL Network, reported yesterday, the Dallas Cowboys front office is still working to get a deal done with Ezekiel Elliott's representatives behind the scenes. However, missing games will leave a bad taste in the mouths of fans and teammates, especially if the Cowboys struggle out of the gate. It's also a bit risky on his part. If Tony Pollard walks in and is as good as he's been in the preseason and is able to show consistency in pass protection, it could allow the Dallas Cowboys front office to hold the line in contract negotiations forcing Elliott's side to come down to their number.

Though this story is getting a ton of coverage, and some would argue too much, it's a story that's far from over. Until the Dallas Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott come to an agreement, sit on a podium together to announce the contract extension, and Elliott straps up his helmet for his first action of the 2019 season, this is going to be a story that continues to play out in the media and likely every day.

For the sake of the rest of the team, hopefully it's not a question they'll have to answer much longer. With week one of the NFL season about to start, the real pressure gets placed on both sides. Elliott will be foregoing game checks and the Dallas Cowboys will be without their two-time NFL rushing champion.

In high-level negotiations like these, more often than not, it comes down to who blinks first. With as confident as both sides feel in their position, this holdout will extend longer than anyone hopes it would. Though things look a bit ominous right now, on the bright side, whatever games Elliott misses, that's 20-25 touches of wear and tear that he won't have to endure. After not participating in training camp or the preseason, whenever Ezekiel Elliott gets back to the business of playing football, he'll be as fresh as your best night's sleep.

At some point, this deal will get done and when it is, the Dallas Cowboys will be a better team with Elliott than without. For a team that has grand expectations for the 2019 season, you can't have too many good players and as Jerry Jones said, Elliott's one of the best the Dallas Cowboys have.

Ep 10: Talking 53-Man Roster and Contracts with Jon Machota of The Athletic by Inside The Cowboys

In this episode of Inside The Cowboys, John is joined by Dallas Cowboys Writer for The Athletic, Jon Machota to talk about the recent developments with the 53-man roster and the contract negoatiations with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper.

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.


Star Blog

Ezekiel Elliott Quietly Having Best Start of His Career

Matthew Lenix



Ezekiel Elliott Quietly Having Best Start of His Career

The Dallas Cowboys and All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott were the talk of the summer when negotiations for a long term extension came to an impasse. Slick maneuvering through the media on both ends left everyone on pins and needles. Ultimately, the two parties reached an agreement just days before the season opener on a six-year 90 million dollar extension with 50 million in guarantees. With his financial security now taken care of, it was time for Elliott to get a few practices under his belt before the season kicked off against the New York Giants. Now, after two weeks of action, it's clear Elliott has knocked off the rust and is ready to have another All-Pro season.

Elliott is traditionally a slow starter and this season was no different. The Cowboys dominated the Giants 35-17 mostly due to Dak Prescott's 405 yard 4 touchdown performance that also included a perfect 158.3 passer rating. With him slinging the ball around and producing points at will it was easy for the Cowboys to stick to their plan of limiting Elliott's touches. He finished with 53 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown as he knocked the dust off the tires so to speak.

Week two saw the Cowboys hit the road in another NFC East matchup with the Washington Redskins. Elliott came into the game having rushed for more yards (484) and more touchdowns (6) against the Redskins than any other team he's faced, including two 100 yard performances. This game was a steady dose of Elliott as he methodically racked up yardage. At halftime, he had 48 yards on 11 carries as the Cowboys held a 14-7 lead.

With the score 24-14 late in the fourth quarter, Elliott capped off a 10 play 54-yard drive with a score from two yards out with just over five minutes left. After a Redskins touchdown made it 31-21 the Cowboys got the ball back with just over two minutes left. Elliott broke a 27-yard run that iced the game and put his total at 111 yards on 23 carries as the Cowboys improved to 2-0. Just the kind of performance you want to see from your star runner after a quiet first game.

In 2016, Elliott had 134 yards and 2 touchdowns in his two games. He had 112 yards and no touchdowns the first two weeks of 2017 and 147 yards and 2 touchdowns last season in the first two games. This season he has 164 yards and 2 touchdowns in two games. With all the talk about the historic start of Dak Prescott, and rightfully so, what has gotten lost is that Elliott is currently off to the best start of his career through two games.

After carefully monitoring his snaps the first two games Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore is ready to put a full workload on Elliott going forward.

"This is our third game," Moore told the Dallas Morning News. "I think he's at that point where we're pretty much playing this thing out at this point. It was good those first two weeks just to be aware of it and then also trust Zeke's response and how he feels and all those things and just balancing that stuff out."

With all the restrictions gone Elliott can get back to his normal amount of reps. This Sunday the Cowboys host the Miami Dolphins and a defense that has allowed 102 points and 391 rushing yards in two games. Another opportunity for a big performance for the All-Pro and to continue reminding the world that he's the best at his position.


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Cowboys en Español: Mitos y Verdades en Dallas, Adiós Taco Charlton

Mauricio Rodriguez



Taco Charlton

El ala defensiva producto de la universidad de Michigan, Taco Charlton, fue seleccionado en la primera ronda del NFL Draft 2017 por los Dallas Cowboys para la sorpresa de muchos. Con jugadores como T.J. Watt y Kevin King en la tabla, muchos esperaban que Stephen Jones y compañía tomaran una ruta diferente. Sin embargo, Rod Marinelli logró influir la selección del equipo y Charlton recibió la llamada. Desde ese momento, se convirtió en un jugador altamente debatido entre los aficionados y analistas de Dallas.

El 2019 es la tercera temporada de Charlton en la NFL y tras estar inactivo en las primeras dos semanas, los Cowboys lo dejaron ir. El motivo por el que Taco estuvo inactivo no era su salud, sino el hecho de que los coaches no lo vieron como uno de los mejores linieros defensivos. Se ha especulado por mucho tiempo sobre la relación entre Marinelli y Charlton, después de que algunos comentarios del coach y algunos directivos nos hicieron dudar sobre su ética de trabajo y su compromiso al equipo.

Según reportes de Jane Slater, Charlton solicitó al equipo un trade hace unos meses, cosa que los Cowboys no consiguieron con ningún equipo y por tanto resultó cortando al defensivo antes de la semana 3 de la temporada. Las cosas se "calentaron" después de que Charlton publicó en redes sociales "Free me." Gran parte por su corte es el regreso del defensivo Robert Quinn, quien estuvo suspendido las primeras dos semanas.

El domingo, Charlton enfrentará a su ex-equipo vistiendo los colores de los Miami Dolphins, mientras que Quinn hace lo mismo pero vistiendo el uniforme de los Dallas Cowboys. En Cowboys en Español, le deseamos éxito a Taco Charlton en su nuevo equipo.

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott Should be rid of all Rust

Mitos y Verdades

Con dos semanas de acción de los Dallas Cowboys, hemos visto y escuchado todo tipo de conclusiones. Algunas parecen ser una exageración, mientras otras tienen todo el sentido del mundo. Por eso es que hoy nos aventuramos a unas cuantas declaraciones comunes sobre el equipo y determinamos cuales son mitos y cuales son verdades...

Debido a la alta producción del juego aéreo en la ofensiva de Kellen Moore, muchos han pasado por alto el trabajo del corredor Ezekiel Elliott. Anteriormente, hemos visto un equipo de los Cowboys que se enfocaba principalmente en el juego terrestre y ahora no parece ser el caso.

Sin embargo, Elliott ha tenido un impacto importante. De hecho, después de dos juegos cuenta con el mejor inicio de su carrera. Hasta el momento ha acumulado 164 yardas en 36 acarreos. Su mejor marca en los primeros dos juegos de toda su carrera.

Veredicto: MITO. 

  • Michael Gallup es cosa seria

Las expectativas eran altas para el receptor de segundo año, Michael Gallup. Se esperaba que su rol incrementara drásticamente después de un 2018 que cerró con una participación importante. En training camp fue dominante y por fin lo pudo demostrar en el emparrillado.

A pesar de que tendrá que recuperarse de lesión, Gallup ha demostrado que la emoción que lo rodea es completamente real.

Veredicto: VERDAD. 

  • El interior de la línea defensiva podría ser un problema

Hasta el momento, una de las mayores decepciones ha sido la selección de segunda ronda de los Cowboys, Trysten Hill. El tackle defensivo de Central Florida ha estado en la lista de inactivos durante las primeras dos semanas.

Antwaun Woods sufrió una lesión contra los Washington Redskins que no parece muy seria. Sin embargo, no hemos visto mucha calidad por parte de los tackles defensivos. Hasta el momento, no hemos visto una dupla de titulares que nos hagan sentir mejor respecto la posición.

Veredicto: VERDAD

  • Somos un equipo pasador

Tras dos semanas, parece que este es el caso. Habiendo dicho eso, no estaré convencido de que la ofensiva mantendrá un nivel tan agresivo en el juego aéreo hasta que vea el mismo plan de juego coontra rivales más fuertes. Kellen Moore ha hecho todo bien por ahora, pero tengo muchas ganas de verlo en un escenario con más presión.

¿Volverá en un punto a depender del juego terrestre o seguirán apostando por Dak Prescott y el juego aéreo? Ya veremos.

Veredicto: VERDAD por ahora, por definir...

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Mitos y Verdades en Dallas, Adiós Taco Charlton" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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NFC East Weekly: Giants Change QBs, Eagles Take First Loss

Jess Haynie



Daniel Jones, Eli Manning, Giants

While we always have plenty to talk about when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys, it's never a bad idea to look around our division and see what's happening with the rivals. This is the first is a new weekly feature on Inside The Star where we'll talk about the major happenings in the NFC East, and especially what they mean for the good guys.

Before we get into the headlines, though, here's a quick glace at the current standings for the division after Week 2 of the 2019 season:

  1. Dallas Cowboys 2-0 (2-0 vs division)
  2. Philadelphia Eagles 1-1 (1-0 vs division)
  3. New York Giants 0-2 (0-1 vs division)
  4. Washington Redskins 0-2 (0-2 vs division)

The Cowboys have started off the season in grand fashion, picking up two division wins against the Giants and Redskins. It's an incredible foundation from which to continue through 2019, and one that they will hopefully build on this week against the tanking Miami Dolphins.

Those division wins could be crucial this year if the Eagles live up to expectations. Despite the loss last week in Atlanta, Philly should still be right there in the end and the NFC East crown may come down that tie-breaking record against division opponents.

If these two weeks have shown us anything, it's that all projections of 2019 being a two-horse race between Dallas and Philadelphia were spot on. New York is as bad as most thought they'd be, and any thoughts of Washington being a plucky underdog are about gone now.

In fact, it only took two weeks for the Giants to throw in the towel and name rookie Daniel Jones their starting quarterback.

Eli Manning, New York Giants

New York Giants QB Eli Manning

End of the Eli Era

Remember this offseason when Giants' General Manager Dave Gettleman said that Eli Manning "had plenty left" going into 2019? Apparently it ran out fast, and it only took two losses for New York to promote Daniel Jones and effectively end Manning's run with the Giants. He had been the full-time starter since 2005.

Assuming that an injury or a total management meltdown don't lead to Eli being renamed as the starter, Jones will get six games under his belt before the rematch with the Cowboys in Week 9. The rookie gets a few soft opponents in Tampa Bay and Washington to start his career, but then it toughens up quickly with Minnesota and New England in Weeks 5 and 6.

Taking my Cowboys glasses off for a second, I actually am rooting for this kid. Daniel Jones was one the most maligned draft picks I've ever seen, basically declared a bust before he even had time to hug the commissioner on stage. On a purely human level, I'd like to see him prove people wrong.

We'll have plenty of time to look at Jones in the weeks and years to come. But before we change topics, I wanted to quickly reflect on the end of the Eli Era.

It was hard as a Dallas fan to watch Manning's success with two Super Bowl wins. Other than physical durability, there was nothing about Eli's game that made you think he was better than our own Tony Romo.

But happenstance is what makes the NFL work so well. It's why Week 1 in the NFL means more than the middle rounds of the NBA Playoffs; unpredictable outcomes make for greatest excitement and intrigue. The best teams and players don't always win, because single-elimination games and even single plays within can change history.

The bottom line is that "ifs" don't make legacies or Hall of Fame resumes. Like Batman said to Rachel Dawes, "it's what I do that defines me." Eli Manning won two championships against the greatest coach & QB combo of the last two decades. He kept his team relevant in the most competitive division in football more years than not.

If he doesn't make it into Canton then I won't think it's a tragedy. But if it does, it's absolutely deserved.

Carson Wentz, Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz

Eagles Lose 1st of 2019

Philadelphia fell behind a little in the race with Dallas by dropping their first game of the season, losing on the road against the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday. A late touchdown by Julio Jones on 4th-down stole the game away from the Eagles.

All losses hurt in the NFL but this one wasn't too damaging. The record against NFC opponents is more relevant to Wild Card races than divisions crowns.

But for two weeks at least, the Cowboys have looked like the better team. They beat the Redskins by a wider margin on Sunday than the Eagles did, and that was even with the game being in Washington.

This week could allow the divide to increase. The Eagles will host the Detroit Lions, who have yet to lose a game this year (they finished Week 1 with a tie) while Dallas gets the league's worst team in Miami.

Also concerning coming out of the loss in Atlanta was that Carson Wentz had to leave the game, albeit briefly, after the NFL's medical spotter called for him to be examined for a concussion. Wentz has since stated that he was fine and the exam was unnecessary.

Even if the concussion exam was overzealous, the fact remains that Wentz was taking some big hits throughout that game. Given his history, one has to wonder if he can make it through the season without some better protection or more efforts to avoid contact.

Until he proves otherwise, Carson is going to be seen as injury prone. It's a fear that Eagles fans keep deep down, in places they don't like to talk about at parties or on Twitter, but it's there.

But if Philly slips up again this week against the Lions, especially with Dallas likely improving to 3-0, then a much more present and potent fear could start to take hold.

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