The Dallas Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott have been involved in preliminary contract discussions this offseason, though there hasn't been a ton of movement toward finalizing an extension for their star running back. There have been reports that Elliott is considering a hold out in order to leverage the Dallas Cowboys into a contract extension with two years left on his original rookie deal.
Charles Robinson, who has been following covering Elliott's potential hold out reported yesterday that Elliott is looking to become the highest-paid running back in the NFL.
On Ezekiel Elliott and the #Cowboys, I'm told the extension Elliott is looking for would exceed Todd Gurley's four-year $57.5 million deal. Which means Dallas could eventually have 3 players (including QB Dak Prescott & WR Amari Cooper) among the top 3 salaries at their position.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) July 26, 2019
In this space, we've talked a lot about the precedence that the Los Angeles Rams created by extending Todd Curley just three years into his NFL career and it looks like Ezekiel Elliott is looking to cash in as well.
Earlier in the offseason, I wrote about how Gurley's contract could be a framework for Elliott to get paid this offseason and if the Dallas Cowboys are planning to extend their starting running back, it's much better to do so now.
The running back position may be the most sensitive position when it comes to wear and tear in the NFL. No other position suffers as steep of a drop off as running back as the position ages. Having just turned 24 years old, the Cowboys front office would be wise to get that extension done now so that his contract would expire closer to 28 years old, or the age when most running backs suffer the biggest decline.
Per OverTheCap.com, Todd Gurley signed his four year $57.5 million dollar extension at the same age that Elliott is now. Gurley received a total of $45 million in guarantees with $21.95 million at signing, and $21 million of that is a signing bonus. Elliott's contract extension would likely come in at four years and $60 million with similar percentages in guaranteed money.
The structure of the contract will be essential. In Gurley's deal, the Rams can walk away as early as 2021 and save as much as $9 million on the salary cap with $4.2 million in dead money in 2021 and 2022. If they waited a year and released him in the 2022 offseason, the Rams could save $10 million with only $4.2 million in dead money for 2022. So basically, the Rams are only on the hook for two more seasons with Todd Gurley. That essentially they only risked one extra season on top of his rookie deal.
If the Dallas Cowboys did the same thing with Elliott's extension, they would essentially only be committed through 2021. After that, if they structure the contract similarly to Gurley's, they could walk away with minimal amounts of dead money for the 2022 and 2023 salary caps.
It remains to be seen if Ezekiel Elliott will hold out of training camp. On Thursday, he was a no-show when the team left for Oxnard and the unofficial start to training camp. Elliott will have to report today for his pre-camp physical and won't be considered late or a no show until that time.
Even if Elliott doesn't report, it's not the end of the world. We know what Ezekiel Elliott is going to give as a running back. It's similar to when Zack Martin sat out of OTAs and Minicamp in search of his new contract extension. You didn't worry about Zack Martin's ability to get ready for the season and you shouldn't with Elliott.
Elliott has until August fourth for his 2019 season to be factored into his service time and to keep his free agency eligibility on track for the 2021 offseason. Even if Elliott does hold out, it'll be shortlived.
The Dallas Cowboys want Ezekiel Elliott to be their bell-cow back for the foreseeable future and he's shown the durability and the ability to be a running back that you can invest in. When they're able to come to an agreement on a new deal is the only question that lingers.
I don't imagine the question will linger too long.