While extensions for Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper remain the priority in Dallas, the Cowboys and running back Ezekiel Elliott are “on the same page” regarding a new deal, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link), who adds Elliott has opened discussions with the Cowboys on a contract that would — in all likelihood — make him the league’s highest-paid running back.
Elliot’s contract negotiations are on the back-burner in Dallas, and that’s not completely unexpected. In addition to Prescott and Cooper, cornerback Byron Jones and offensive lineman La’el Collins are also scheduled to reach unrestricted free agency next spring. The Cowboys only have one franchise tag to deploy, so signing their impressive crop of 2020 free agents could prove difficult, although the club is projected to have the third-most cap space ($75MM) in the NFL next spring.
After his fifth-year option was exercised last month, Elliott is under contract for the 2020 campaign at a price of $9.099MM. So far, no other member of the 2016 draft class has signed an extension. But again, that’s not out of the norm, as 2016 draftees only became eligible for new deals when the 2018 regular season concluded.
If the 23-year-old Elliott is to become the NFL’s highest-paid running back, he’ll have to surpass the four-year, $57.5MM contract the Rams’ Todd Gurley signed last summer. That deal contained nearly $22MM in fully guaranteed money, and is worth $1.25MM more per year than Le’Veon Bell‘s deal, which ranks second among backs.
The Cowboys haven’t been shy about running Elliott into the ground during his first three years with the team. He led the league in carries in both 2016 and 2018, and probably would have done so in 2017 had he not missed six games via suspension. Las season, Elliott posted 1,434 yards and six touchdowns on the ground while adding 77 receptions, 567 yards, and three scores in the passing game. Of course, Elliott ran behind one of the NFL’s better offensive lines, and only ranked 18th in Football Outsiders’ success rate.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.