It doesn’t look like Jerry Jones is too concerned about Ezekiel Elliott’s new contract.
While Jones may have learned his lesson last week after remarking, “Who? Now Zeke who?,” in response to backing running back Tony Pollard’s big performance in last week’s preseason win over the Los Angeles Rams, he didn’t seem too stressed about ongoing negotiations with his star running back.
Not long after a report leaked that Elliott had turned down an offer that would have made him the second-highest paid running back in the NFL, Jones wanted to make one thing clear to reporters — Elliott is under contract, therefore, he is not worried about the situation.
Via Mike Florio of NBC Sports:
“I’m optimistic that we can get Zeke’s deal done,” owner Jerry Jones said after Saturday night’s preseason game. “I don’t know that. I don’t know that. But sure, I don’t mean to be trite, but the whole premise is based on getting everybody under contract playing, so that’s what we’re trying to do here. Zeke’s under contract.”
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Ezekiel Elliott Would Have Been Second-Highest Paid RB in NFL
To understand what kind of money this contract offer featured, understand that the Rams’ Todd Gurley is the highest-paid running back in the NFL at four years, $57.5 million ($45 million guaranteed). The second-highest paid back in the NFL is currently the New York Jets‘ Le’Veon Bell, who is earning $13.1 million on average. In other words, Elliott would have been paid roughly $14 million per season on the Cowboys’ latest offer — an offer that he rejected.
Fox Sports Radio’s Clay Travis is the one who leaked the initial report regarding the Cowboys’ latest offer and this is the hard stance that he took going against the idea of paying Elliott that much money — while also cracking on the fourth-year back for rejecting the offer.
“Ezekiel Elliott has turned down the Dallas Cowboys’ offer to make him the second-highest paid running back in the NFL,” Travis said on his Outkick the Coverage show. “Zeke has made an utterly ridiculous decision.”
“He has two years left on his contract. He is getting huge dollars, which are not justified, based on the value of the running back position right now. … Jerry Jones needs to be smarter than this; he doesn’t need to pay Ezekiel Elliott even as much as he has offered right now. That is ridiculous. Makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. I think the Cowboys need to adopt a tougher line here. They paid Jaylon Smith. They’re going to have to pay Dak Prescott. They’re going to have to pay Amari Cooper. It doesn’t make sense to pay a running back $13 million a year, $12 million a year, $14 million a year.
Walk away, Jerry Jones. Let Tony Pollard run behind that Dallas Cowboy offensive line. He will do incredibly well for you, and a lot of people will legitimately be saying — instead of in a joking fashion — ‘Zeke who?’”
Ezekiel Elliott is the Cowboys’ Most Important Player on Offense
Running back is the second-least paid position in the NFL on average and it is true that running backs aren’t valued at all in today’s NFL. With that said, the Cowboys differ from the majority of the NFL in that their offense is centered around the talents of Elliott — not Prescott and not Amari Cooper.
Elliott is due to earn just $3.85 million this season, which makes him the 11th-highest paid back in the NFL.
The bottom line is, Elliott is extremely vital to the Cowboys’ success — and it appears Dallas was ready to reward him with the second-biggest contract of any running back in the league. The only way the Cowboys could do better is if they offer Elliott even more than what the Rams offered Gurley.
That’s not to mention that Dallas still has to worry about new contracts for their other young offensive pieces in Prescott and Cooper.
The Cowboys’ drama surrounding the contract situations of their star players don’t appear to be going away, but don’t expect the billionaire owner to buckle under the pressure any time soon.
He did make his fortune from being a businessman after all.
Follow D.J. Siddiqi on Twitter @DJSiddiqi