Cowboys Bring Back Offensive Starter for 2020 Season: Report

Jamize Olawale with Ezekiel Elliott

Getty Jamize Olawale with Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott’s lead blocker is locked in for another year.

ESPN insider Field Yates reported Tuesday the Dallas Cowboys have exercised the 2020 contract option on fullback Jamize Olawale, ensuring his return.

Olawale inked a three-year, $5.4 million extension with the team in March 2019. But the agreement included a potential out this offseason; it was essentially a one-year deal worth $2.9 million, with $2.8 million guaranteed at signing.

He’ll earn $1 million in base salary for his age-31 campaign, as well as a $100,000 roster bonus ($6,250 per game). He’ll count $1.7 million against the salary cap. The Cowboys would incur a $1.2 million dead-money charge if they were to cut him.

In 2021, the final year of his contract, Olawale’s base salary ($1.3 million) and cap hit ($2 million) are slated to increase, though his dead money ($600,000) is halved. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent in March 2022.

Olawale joined Dallas in 2012 as an undrafted free agent before spending six seasons (2012-17) with the Raiders. His second Cowboys stint began in 2018. The former North Texas standout will never be confused for an offensive dynamo, having totaled just 55 career rushing attempts (206 yards, four touchdowns) and 41 receptions (438 yards, three TDs).

But he’s been instrumental to Elliott’s success, helping spring the two-time NFL rushing champion to consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. The Cowboys’ ground attack finished fifth in 2019, averaging 134.6 yards per game. Olawale, who logged 118 snaps, was held off the stat sheet — despite making all 16 appearances — save for two receiving targets.

While Dallas opted to bring in pass-happy Mike McCarthy as its new head coach, the Elliott-dominated rushing unit (featuring Olawale and impressive sophomore RB Tony Pollard) is expected to remain a primary focus.

“Zeke will touch the ball plenty in our offense,” McCarthy said at last month’s Scouting Combine.

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Ex-Pro Bowl TE ‘Dream’ Target for Cowboys in Free Agency

Taking into account their need to replace Jason Witten, columnist Kristopher Knox dubbed Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert a “realistic dream signing” for the Cowboys in free agency.

While injuries have been an issue for Eifert, a lack of use in Zac Taylor’s offense was a bigger problem in 2019. Eifert made just four starts but finished with 436 yards and three touchdowns.

The 29-year-old should have plenty of strong years ahead of him. He has tremendous upside and with the injury risk should fit into Dallas’ long-term financial plans.

The Bengals first-round draft pick (No. 21 overall) in 2013, perpetually-injured Eifert is the epitome of risk-reward. Though he does possess evident pass-catching talent when on the field, his biggest problem is … getting on the field — and staying there. Case in point: Last year was the first time he’s logged an entire 16-game regular season; Eifert made just 14 appearances (five starts) from 2016-18.

His best statistical campaign came in 2015 when the 6-foot-6 former Notre Dame standout collected 52 catches for 615 yards and an eye-popping 13 touchdowns, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Eifert is a “name” player among a crowded crop of free-agent tight ends that includes Witten, Jordan Reed, Eric Ebron, Vernon Davis, and Marcedes Lewis.

The Cowboys currently have recently-tendered restricted free agent Blake Jarwin entrenched atop the depth chart, with 2018 fourth-rounder Dalton Schultz behind him. The club is likely to fortify the position via next month’s draft.

READ NEXT: Cowboys to Face AFC Title Contender in Special Preseason Game

Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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