Ezekiel Elliott’s contract holdout lasted beyond the Aug. 6 deadline, meaning that the Dallas Cowboys could be without their star running back for the whole season (a la the Steelers last year with Le’Veon Bell).
To some, particularly Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports, this actually works out for the Dallas offense led by quarterback Dak Prescott. He said on his radio show that Dallas should focus on the partnership between Prescott and star receiver Amari Cooper and less on Elliott.
“It is of my opinion, and perhaps my opinion only, that Dak Prescott, like a lot of young people…was a bit of a late bloomer,” Cowherd said. “(He) improved a lot at the end of last year. It is of my opinion that there is a belief in America that Dak needs Zeke, and Dak actually matches better with Amari Cooper.
“Before they landed Amari Cooper, Dak was 3-4. After, 7-2. He completed 62 (percent of his passes) before Amari Cooper. 71 (percent) after. Eight touchdowns, four interceptions before Amari Cooper. 14 touchdowns, four interceptions after.”
Outlook for Amari Cooper & Ezekiel Elliott
Cooper came midway through last season through a trade with the Oakland Raiders. In a little over half of a season, he snagged 53 catches for 725 yards and six touchdowns. Prescott also saw the best statistical season of his 3-year career, tossing for 3,885 yards, 22 touchdowns and just eight picks.
Elliott also experienced a bounceback from a disappointing 2017 campaign, churning out 1,434 yards on the ground and six scores. However, his 868 carries in three seasons have some thinking his workload is too high and isn’t a sound financial investment for the future.
The workload question has Hall of Fame back Eric Dickerson, a Texas native, arguing that’s why Elliott needs to make his paycheck now.
“I really believe they will get something done, even talking to him he said we’ll get something done,” Dickerson said to the Dallas News. “Will he miss preseason? He’ll probably miss some of the preseason. Will he miss the regular season? I can’t say for sure but I think he’ll be there. But I don’t know for sure, but he has to do what he has to do, now. He’s got to do it now, the time is now.”
At 24-years-old, Elliott is a few years away from the age that many backs start to decline. According to Bleacher Report, either that age or a back with more than 370 carries in a season is statistically likely to see his performance dip.
Ezekiel Elliott Not Moving on Contract Demands?
This could be why, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk states, that Elliott was never going to budge on his contract demands despite the Aug. 6 deadline.
Outside of Cooper and Elliott, though, does Prescott have the weapons to thrive in his fourth season?
Randall Cobb is a supplemental piece at wide receiver, but both have to produce more than they did in 2018. They combined for a little over 600 yards receiving. At tight end, Jason Witten is a future Hall of Famer, but after a year in the Monday Night Football booth, is he ready to be the player he used to be?
Which brings us back to Cowherd’s comments. The truth may be that Prescott needs both since the quarterback needs a weapon downfield to throw to, as well as a back to keep the pressure off the passing game.