Emmitt Smith Sounds Off on Ezekiel Elliott’s Holdout

Getty Emmitt Smith had his own contract holdout with the Cowboys in 1993. He went on to become the league's all-time leading rusher.

Emmitt Smith has undoubtedly the most qualified perspective to speak on the issue of Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout and contract dispute with the Dallas Cowboys.

The NFL’s all-time rushing leader staged his own holdout in 1993 with the Cowboys as he looked to become to highest paid player at his position. His holdout came a year after rushing for a franchise record 1,713 yards and helping lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl victory.

After the Cowboys dropped their firs two games while relying on a rookie back, Dallas and Jerry Jones gave in, signing Smith to four-year contract worth a reported $13.6 million — making him the highest paid running back in the NFL. The team went on to win a second consecutive Super Bowl.

Many people like to equate Smith’s holdout to Elliott’s because of the many parallels, and while on 105.3 The Fan in Tampa Bay before the Cowboys finale preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Hall of Famer said that’s a fair comparison.

“If he doesn’t do it now when the league it talking about devaluing the running back position and he’s proven he can carry the ball 350 plus times on a consistent basis, there aren’t many backs in the National Football League that can do that,” Smith said. “We have one on our team and there’s another one up in New York (Saquon Barkley) and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone else. When you have those caliber of backs on your squad, they’re unique individuals … He deserves to be paid like that.”

Smith did, however, note a noticeable difference between the two situations.

“My contract was completely up,” Smith said. “It’s not like I broke my contract or tried to get more capital. I did what I them I was going to do when I came in: I was going to earn the right to get in position to be paid like the highest paid in the league.”

In an interview with Maxim that released this week, Elliott mentioned Smith when talking about his contract negotiations.

“I love playing for the Dallas Cowboys, I love the organization, my teammates. I do want to be a Cowboy for the rest of my life and hopefully that’s a possibility. But even Emmitt Smith, the greatest running back ever, ended up going to play a couple of years for another organization,” Elliott said, noting Smith’s final two years with the Arizona Cardinals. “So it’s just the nature of the game, but I want to be a Dallas Cowboy for as long as I can.”

Emmitt Smith Feels for Ezekiel Elliott, Says ‘Trust’ Is Key

Jerry Jones, Ezekiel Elliott

GettyJerry Jones, and Ezekiel Elliott

Elliott has missed more than a month of practice/training camp and all of the team’s preseason game as he seeks a long-term deal. Smith said that can be very hard during a contract dispute, and even a negotiating tactic from the other side.

“It’s extremely difficult being away from teammates. If you want to get a glimpse of what retirement is like, when you’re away from your teammates you get a glimpse. You get a glimpse. It’s not a good feeling,” Smith said on the radio broadcast. “When it comes down to negotiating, teams and owners and negotiators, they know those things and they prey on those things. Because this is what you’ve been groomed to do, you’ve been waiting you’re whole life and now it’s here, people have been telling you, ‘Earn it and we’ll take care of you.’ You’ve got to trust but verify and now he’s trying to verify.”

Quarterback Dak Prescott — who’s seeking his own long-term extension — has spoke sparingly about Elliott’s holdout, but he made one thing clear.

“Friendship is friendship and business is business,” Prescott said. “You don’t cross those.”

Ezekiel Elliott Contract Status & Holdout Update

Last year, Elliott had a monster workload, with 304 carries — 43 more than any other player — to go with 77 catches, collecting 2,001 yards from scrimmage. He’s led the league in rushing in two of his three seasons, including last year when he racked up 1,434 yards.

He still has two years left on his rookie deal, with Dallas picking up his fifth-year option earlier this offseason that would keep him with the team through 2020.

The Cowboys have reportedly made an offer that would make Elliott the second highest paid running back in the league.

Elliott is scheduled to make a base salary of $3.8 million this season and $9.09 million in 2020. Rams RB Todd Gurley (four years, $57.5 million) and Jets RB Le’Veon Bell (four years, $52.5 million) are the league’s top two backs, so the reported deal offered would land between those two numbers.

That being said, many have come to Elliott’s defense that he deserves to be paid like the top RB in the league with his already loaded resume. NFL Insider Jay Glazer recently reported that Zeke will get a historic deal that surpasses Gurley’s.

The Cowboys brass has said multiple times in recent weeks that they are “optimistic” a deal will get done with Elliott, although it’s also been noted that talks are at a standstill.

The Cowboys open their season on Sept. 8 at home against the New York Giants.

READ NEXT: Dez Bryant Reveals Why He Turned Down Massive Contract

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