The rumors Ezekiel Elliott had plans to leave the country proved accurate, with the All-Pro running back now in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Elliott is using this time to train, doing so with multiple other NFL players, one of those being former Giant Orleans Darkwa, per Hill (on Twitter).
Elliott trained in Cabo during his 2017 suspension. He is now doing so as part of a holdout. Elliott’s camp does not view training out of the country as different than the Cowboys using Oxnard, Calif., as their camp site, Hill adds. Some members of Cowboys brass, as could be expected, do and believe this is a bad look for Elliott. Jason Garrett said recently he expected Elliott to be at camp.
The disgruntled running back has two years remaining on his contract, after the Cowboys picked up his fifth-year option, but has evidently not seen enough progress in extension talks to risk showing up for camp. Jerry Jones does not appear ready to budge soon.
“The point there is, you don’t have to have a rushing champion to win a Super Bowl. … Emmitt (Smith) was the first one to do it,” Jones said, via CBS DFW. “That’s one of the dilemmas at running back is that the league knows that you can win Super Bowls and not have the Emmitt Smith back there or not have Zeke back there.”
Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said earlier this offseason an Elliott extension would likely start at Todd Gurley‘s price, calling him “the straw that stirs the drink.” But the team has yet to finalize contracts with Dak Prescott or Amari Cooper. Elliott indeed looks to want Gurley money (four years, $57.5MM, $45MM guaranteed). The Cowboys still have this trio, La’el Collins and Byron Jones as players either holding out or in contract years.
“You’ve gotta do all of the things along with having Zeke that allow you to have other players so that you can win the Super Bowl,” Jerry Jones said. “That’s what we’re going through.”
If Elliott does not report by August 6, he will lose a season toward free agency. Aaron Donald did not let that deadline stop his 2017 holdout, but the Rams superstar also plays a more valuable position. Elliott, though, holds a key stake in the Cowboys’ offense and has accumulated a historic workload through three seasons (NFL-high 1,003 touches since 2016). Staying out of that picture undoubtedly weakens the defending NFC East champions.
This offseason has not seen the progress the summer of 2018 made at the running back spot, when Gurley and David Johnson received market-reshaping deals. The Elliott and Melvin Gordon holdouts, aimed at the Pro Bowlers joining the NFC West duo and Le’Veon Bell as eight-figure-AAV players, have no end in sight.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.