While Zack Martin walks around The Star in Frisco being the highest-paid guard in NFL history, other Dallas Cowboys might be day-dreaming about when their time for a similar long-term contract arrives. Cowboys Nation is already thinking about it at least. Dak Prescott, DeMarcus Lawrence and maybe even Ezekiel Elliott might see an extension soon enough, if they’re able to put up a big-time performance in 2018.
Having said that, Zeke might never see a big Pay Day like Zack Martin did earlier this week.
Don’t get me wrong, Ezekiel Elliott is one of the top running backs in the league and has been flat out dominant since entering the league in 2016. There isn’t a single doubt about his abilities and about what his role on the team is.
But Elliott has received quite the workload during his first two seasons in the league and the Cowboys might not change that anytime soon. At the end of the day, Zeke and the running game have become this team’s identity.
Through 25 starts, the super star running back has had 622 touches, averaging 25 touches per game. Le’Veon Bell, who’s also one of the finest players at the position, averaged 23 touches per game during his first two seasons. Gurley averaged 20.
While I understand Cowboys Nation’s desire to see Zeke involved in the passing game, taking a look at how they use Elliott makes you realize it’s more than comprehensible that they don’t use him as much as a pass-catcher.
The running back position is a tough one. Players are worn out and their careers tend to be shorter than the rest. This brings us to an inevitable question.
What will Ezekiel Elliott’s future look like in Dallas?
The most likely scenario is that his fifth-year option is eventually picked up so he can play through 2020 at the very least. But what about the year after that? Will the Cowboys hand him a long-term extension? It would have to be an expensive one.
By that time, Elliott will still be a young player. But how young will the then 26-year old running back will look like on the field if he keeps getting 25 touches per game?
When the time for an extension arrives, the Cowboys’ front office might go the way the Steelers’ have gone with Le’Veon Bell, handing him the franchise tag once or twice in order to keep him wearing the Star while not committing to the guy they know they have worn down over the years.
Of course, there’s an alternate scenario. Maybe Elliott turns out to be a freak that can carry the ball 300 times every season and keep playing at the same level that he is right now.
I wouldn’t be so hopeful though. The Cowboys are desperate for a championship run and they know that Zeke will be a huge part of the team that finally brings the Lombardi back to Dallas. Don’t expect Zeke’s workload to be reduced. If anything, it might even increase after a six-game suspension in 2017.
We’re a long way from knowing the answer to this question and debates about Dak and about D-Law will likely come before this one. Even still, Zack Martin’s extension is giving Cowboys fans a lot to think about. Ezekiel Elliott’s future is one of the many things in the mind of Cowboys Nation.