The Dallas Cowboys and holdout running back Ezekiel Elliott continued negotiating on a long-term contract extension Monday, as the team conducted its inaugural 2019 regular season practice at The Star.
Per Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson, a plugged-in NFL reporter kept abreast of the standoff, the sides enjoyed a “more positive day” following a supposedly contentious turn of events Sunday. It appears headway is being made and dollars are no longer a sticking point.
That’s the good news.
The bad? The Cowboys do have an issue, a “big one,” according to Robinson, who explains that structure — specifically, Elliott’s apparent desire for a front-loaded deal — is the catalyst for the newest snag in month-long discussions.
“Latest on #Cowboys & Zeke. A more positive day. Issues continue on structure. Big one: The impact of the 30-percent rule has been a grind,” Robinson tweeted late Monday night. “Basically pushes a lot of money up front or forces creative measures to meet Gurley APY. Dallas doesn’t want a frontloaded deal. Progressing.”
After previously reporting Dallas was “close” to locking down Elliott, Robinson posted a discouraging update Sunday night, claiming the club grew “frustrated” by the reigning rushing champion’s updated (but largely undisclosed) demand.
“Update on Zeke Elliott and the #Cowboys: the two sides communicated in the late afternoon,” Robinson tweeted. “Dallas is frustrated with the last exchange. After Saturday’s momentum, Cowboys expected more compromise to get a deal done today. Didn’t happen, so it’s on to Monday and a hopeful reset.”
On Monday morning, NFL Network’s Jane Slater echoed Robinson’s hearsay, reporting that discussions were held Sunday evening but ultimately didn’t move the needle on Elliott’s aim to top Todd Gurley as the league’s richest RB.
“When I asked what’s holding it up the answer was the same as last month ‘everything,’” Slater tweeted.
What we (think we) know: Elliott is in line to meet or, more likely, surpass Gurley’s $15 million annual salary.
What we don’t (yet) know: How the Cowboys plan to pay that out, and what’s acceptable to the two-time, hard-stance-taking Pro Bowler.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s edition of As The Zeke Turns.
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Giants’ Defender Calls Out Elliott
Suffice it to say, the New York Giants want the Cowboys at full strength for Sunday’s season-opener at AT&T Stadium. New York linebacker Alec Ogletree, channeling the legendary Ric Flair, strongly stated that in order to be the best (overtake Dallas), you have to beat the best (conquer Dallas with Elliott).
“I hope he does show up,” Ogletree said Monday, ahead of the Week 1 rivalry game, per the Dallas Morning News. “I hope he gets what he wants to get. In order to be the best, you have to play everybody that’s the best, and he’s one of the best in the league.”
Pollard Changes Digits; Cowboys Promote RB
The rookie fourth-round pick is cemented as the starting running back for as long as Elliott’s holdout lasts. And Pollard is now dressing for the occasion, switching his jersey number from No. 36 to No. 20, which was made famous in Big D by Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Renfro.
“We feel good about Tony,” head coach Jason Garrett said Monday. “Tony’s done everything we’ve asked him to do as a runner, as a protector, as a receiver, and there aren’t really any issues we have with him,” Garrett said. “He’s a smart football player. We thought that when he was coming out of school.”
In related news, the Cowboys promoted RB Jordan Chunn from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. Chunn, who was waived at final cuts Saturday, joins Pollard and Alfred Morris in the Zeke-less backfield.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL