“We have to be prepared to play without any given player,” the Cowboys’ owner/general manager said Wednesday during his weekly appearance on 105.3 The Fan. “We may very well play without a player that’s not coming in on his contract. We’ll play and we’ll play well.”
Elliott is now on Day 34 of his holdout from team activities, and Dallas is now 11 days away from taking on the rival New York Giants at AT&T Stadium to open the regular season. There’s no end in sight to his absence, nor an imminent agreement between the increasingly hostile parties.
“I don’t have anything to report there,” Jones said. “No, we don’t have anything to report on our contract negotiations.”
This jibes with a Tuesday report from Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram which claimed the Cowboys have yet to float a new offer to Elliott’s camp.
“Same offer as before,” Hill tweeted. “Same offer from camp. Nothing new last week. Nothing new this week. Nothing new. Not nothing. Nurting. Carry on.”
He added: “Zeke made an offer to the Cowboys before holding out that they deemed as too high. They presented their offer. This is where we are and where we have been.”
It’s been a contentious month between the Cowboys and Elliott, who’s angling to overtake Los Angeles’ Todd Gurley as the league’s richest runner. Jones, to little surprise, has stuck to his guns in negotiations, going so far as to antagonize the two-time Pro Bowler. The club also has gotten a major break in the form of rookie RB Tony Pollard, who indirectly prompted Jones’ now-infamous “Zeke who?” quip after helping lead Dallas to a preseason victory over Los Angeles.
Those close to the club have predicted that Elliott will return prior to Week 1, even if that means playing on his rookie contract. He stands to lose $226,000 for each regular season game he misses and Dallas has the authority to chase repayment of up to 25 percent of his $4.087 million signing bonus proration.
But if not, and Elliott boldly pulls a Le’Veon Bell (without surpassing him monetarily), that’s fine, too.
“We’ve got a marathon here,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “We want Zeke when we get to the playoffs. We want Zeke when we’re in the dog days of this season.”
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Garrett, Martin Fine with Moving Forward
Addressing the media following Tuesday’s practice, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and offensive guard Zack Martin each echoed a particular thought on Elliott: We want him, but we don’t need him.
“You focus on the guys who are here and the guys who are available,” Garrett said, per Pro Football Talk. “You are confronted with a lot of those situations over the course of the year. Hopefully you have built your team in such a way that you can go with the next guy. We feel good about that next guy. We will have different injuries throughout the year. And we can’t say, ‘Aw, when is he coming back?’ You move on. You put the next guy in there.
“Zeke has been a really good player for us. We love him as a guy. We love him as a player. We want to get him back in here. Right now, we are going with the guys we have. When Zeke gets back here, we will get him integrated as quickly as we can, and he will be a big part of our team.”
Martin was a more direct and less verbose. From the sounds of his inner thinking, the All-Pro lineman won’t be any less excited blocking for Pollard than he would Elliott. The implication being, the name on the front of their jersey supersedes that on the back.
“We’re going to play with what we’ve got, and what we’ve got is a damn good back in Tony Pollard,” Martin said, per the Dallas Morning News (via PFT). “Obviously, we want [Elliott] out here, but we’re prepared to get ready for Week One.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter @KelbermanNFL