Dallas Cowboys fans had plenty to cheer about on Saturday night as the team steamrolled the Houston Texans 34-0 in their third preseason game.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave them a reason to keep on clapping following the victory in his postgame press conference, giving a positive update on the status of negotiations with disgruntled running back Ezekiel Elliott.
“We don’t have but one contract that has to get done to play. I’m optimistic that we can get Zeke’s deal done,” Jones told The Athletic’s Jon Machota. “But we’re gonna play football one way or the other.”
Elliott’s holdout is approaching a month and he’s missed all of training camp and three preseason games. 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.
“I don’t want to sound like it’s not important for him to be here. I think it is important for him to be here or we wouldn’t be having everybody be here, everybody getting some work in,” Jones said. “Everything about this is important. Everybody does understand it. It’s just a question of seeing if it works, but you know, we’re going to play football one way or the other. That’s the way it works.
“When you don’t have everybody under contract playing, then you’re dealing with a blowout or you’re dealing with a flat tire someplace and you try to get it fixed. But you’ve got to play, and you do play.”
Ezekiel Elliott Seeking Long-Term Security With Cowboys
Last year, Elliott had a monster workload, with 304 rushes — 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.
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.
Future Hall of Fame offensive lineman Joe Thomas backed Elliott on Twitter, saying he deserved to be paid as the top running back in the league and shouldn’t answer the phone for anything less.
“If I am Zeke, and the Cowboys send me an offer anything less or equal to Todd Gurley, it’s going straight to voicemail,” Thomas wrote. “They can’t honestly think he would accept anything less than to be the highest paid running back. It’s just an insult to even start anywhere below that number.”
Ezekiel Elliott Training in Cabo With Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk
So where in the world is Elliott as he waits on the Cowboys to make an offer he can’t refuse? Last word was that the running back was in Cabo, training with Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk.
Faulk discussed his relationship with Elliott this week while on the Rich Eisen Show.
“I’m on my way there. He’s been busting his butt training,” Faulk said. “I got some drills and some stuff I used to do.”
Faulk said he doesn’t want Elliott to be in shape — he wants him in game shape, which isn’t easy to do without training camp and preseason work.
“I’ve challenged him with his conditioning and trying to get him closer to football-ready, not just being in good shape,” Faulk said. “So I’m going down to try and make him throw up.”
The Cowboys open their season on Sept. 8 against the New York Giants.