Ezekiel Elliott passed along to Dallas Cowboys teammate Dak Prescott the best lesson he learned amid his fight for a long-term extension. And what he learned sounds like it was taught by Andrew Brandt.
“You’ve got to be patient,” Elliott relayed to Prescott through the media on Wednesday, via USA Today. “Deadlines get deals done.”
Surely Elliott means self-imposed deadlines, because he forced the Cowboys’ hand last year, staging a training camp holdout in protest of his contract. It dragged on … and on … and on … with Elliott infamously jet-setting to Cabo where he trained alongside Hall-of-Famer Marshall Faulk amid the team’s preseason period.
Dallas finally relinquished in September 2019, handing Elliott a six-year, $90 million deal that made him the NFL’s highest-paid running back in total money and included $50 million in guarantees — $28 million fully guaranteed at signing.
It’s impossible for the Cowboys to reset the market with Prescott, thanks to Patrick Mahomes’ $503 million arrangement, and thus impossible for Prescott to replicate Elliott’s power moves.
If Prescott was going to hold out, it would have happened this past offseason, his leverage at its peak. Now, following a gruesome ankle injury and subsequent multi-month recovery, he’s even likelier to settle for another franchise tag, this time at a cost of $37.7 million, if future discussions again devolve to it.
The Cowboys and Prescott, an unrestricted free agent in 2021, will be permitted to resume talks on Jan. 4, the day after the regular-season finale.
“As I’ve said all along, our complete commitment is to Dak Prescott,” team COO Stephen Jones said And we look forward to getting his deal finished. He’s the leader of the team and we certainly miss him,” Jones said Monday on 105.3 The Fan.
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Washington Among Rumored, Would-Be Suitors for Dak
If (a big “if”) the Cowboys divorce from Prescott, the former Pro Bowl passer will have no shortage of potential courters. Appearing recently on ESPN’s Get Up, NFL insider Adam Schefter disclosed a number of teams — some within Dallas’ own division — that could make a play for Prescott this spring.
“How much would Washington pay to cripple its division rival and take its quarterback, and trot out Dak Prescott? Schefter asked rhetorically. “How about Chicago? How about Indianapolis? How about Tampa Bay, as a successor to Tom Brady? How about New Orleans, as a successor to Drew Brees? How about San Francisco? How about any one of these teams?”
“The fact that there are so many options tells you that Dak Prescott has got an enormous amount of leverage. Because he can do that. He can say, ‘OK, I’m not gonna re-sign here after a year, so you might as well move on from me.’ There are a lot of different ways that he can play this out, that the Cowboys can play this out.”
To facilitate Prescott’s departure, because he’s not under contract beyond 2020, the Cowboys would need to place the franchise tender on the 27-year-old and strike a sign-and-trade. But these uncertain times, Schefter cautioned, may complicate matters.
“During a pandemic, if the cap is going down, can they afford to franchise Dak Prescott? This, right now, shapes up to me as the most fascinating storyline of the NFL offseason,” he said. “Every year there’s something that jumps out; last year was Tom Brady. Right now, it looks like Dak Prescott even though he hasn’t played in a while due to that injury.”
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Zeke Fires Back at Critics Calling for His Job
Wednesday marked Elliott’s chance to shush growing whispers concerning his role, and possibly his future, with Dallas. He took advantage of the opportunity.
“At the end of the day, those aren’t the people signing my checks,” Elliott said when asked about his critics, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Those aren’t the cats that are making the final decisions. I think there’s a reason they’re not the ones making those decisions. I don’t think it really matters.”
The question was raised after Dallas’ Week 15 development in which an injured Elliott was a surprise deactivation and his understudy, sophomore RB Tony Pollard, exploded for 5.8 yards-per-carry and two touchdowns amid a 41-33 victory over San Francisco.
To Elliott — who’s in danger of being held under 1,000 rushing yards for the first time since 2017 — the only voice that carries any weight is owner/general manager Jerry Jones’. And that voice also tamped down speculation suggesting his short- or long-term replacement.
“They’re two different type backs,” Jones said of Pollard and Elliott. “…Zeke is a tremendous weapon for football because physicalness does have an impact and does wear down and does win when it can be a part of not making as many mistakes as we’ve made a lot of times (on offense) when we’ve seen that earlier this year.
“We’ve always frankly known that with Pollard that we had an alternative there that was another way to do it, but a good way to do it. They make quite a tandem.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL