Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott Planning Holdout?

Even as the Cowboys have prioritized extensions for Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper over his, Ezekiel Elliott participated in the team’s offseason program. He may be set for an about-face come training camp.

Elliott, who has two years left on his rookie contract thanks to the Cowboys picking up his fifth-year option, has privately said he plans to hold out from Cowboys camp, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. No final decision has been made, per Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson (on Twitter), but the fourth-year back is “absolutely” considering it. The Cowboys have discussed an Elliott re-up for more than a month, and how much progress the sides make between now and camp will likely determine if Elliott reports, per Robinson (Twitter links).

A recent report indicated the Cowboys do not plan to extend Elliott in the near future, and considering the historic workload he has amassed thus far in his career (an NFL-high 1,003 touches since debuting in 2016), the soon-to-be 24-year-old back may be set to force the Cowboys to make his second contract a priority. The team, however, has Prescott, Cooper, Byron Jones, Jaylon Smith and La’el Collins going into contract years.

But Elliott plays a position with a much shorter shelf life and possesses a limited window to turn his skills into a financial windfall. The Cowboys gave Elliott 381 touches last season, pushing his career per-game total to 25.1. Only two backs (Edgerrin James and LaDainian Tomlinson) have ever accumulated more touches per game than Elliott through three seasons. Another high-volume season, at a $3.9MM base salary, would run the risk of an injury or further mileage damaging Elliott’s value. Cowboys plans for another big Elliott workload have played into thinking on the holdout front, Robinson tweets.

Elliott, who recently skirted more suspension trouble, has won two rushing titles in three seasons and has played at a higher level than any of the Cowboys’ contract-year players. Dallas took care of its All-Pro offensive linemen and may face the prospect of its best skill player threatening to withhold his services for a while. Todd Gurley, David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell each make north of $13MM per year. Elliott stands to make just more than $9MM in 2020. Should he decide to hold out, he will follow Melvin Gordon‘s lead this year. The Chargers back has not accomplished what Elliott has but has publicly threatened a holdout.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Security Guard Pressing Charges Against Ezekiel Elliott

UPDATE, 5:35pm: Shortly after this story broke, Elliott’s attorneys released a statement saying that he was being extorted by the alleged victim, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). The statement reads:

“Over the course of the past several weeks, Mr. Elliott has been the target of extortion. Kyle Johnson’s filing of a criminal complaint against Mr. Elliott in connection with the Las Vegas incident is the latest attempt to do so. Mr. Elliott and his team are in contract with all of the proper authorities and are fully cooperating with them in their investigations.”

5:28pm: Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott won’t be suspended for his incident with a security guard in Las Vegas back in May, but the situation isn’t over quite yet. 

The security guard is filing assault charges against Elliott in Vegas, according to Enzo Marino of FOX 5 Vegas. The security guard, Kyle Johnson, alleges that Elliott “bumped me and then shoved me over a metal railing.” Per Marino, “Johnson said he was only seeking a sincere apology from Elliot, but decided to press charges after he says the NFL and Elliot tried to sweep the incident under the rug.”

The league spent a lot of time digging into it and the investigation garnered a lot of headlines. Elliott was summoned to meet with commissioner Roger Goodell a couple of weeks ago, and he released a lengthy statement afterward taking responsibility and apologizing for the incident.

Zeke has only been in the league for a few years, but he’s already had a lot of battles with the commissioner’s office. He famously went to court over his six-game suspension in 2017, and the Cowboys have said they feel Elliott has been unfairly put under a microscope by the league. We’ve also heard that if Elliott were to get himself into any additional trouble, Goodell would likely crack down harshly.

This all comes at a pivotal time for Elliott, as he angles for an extension. He’s under team control through the 2020 season due to the fifth-year option in his rookie contract, but he wants to get locked up well before then. We heard last month that Dallas wasn’t in any rush to extend him and could even let him play out his rookie deal and enter free agency, but then it was reported more recently that they had changed their minds and now viewed extending him as a priority.

Marino reports that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police will now conduct an investigation, and decide whether or not to charge Elliott with battery. We’ll keep you updated on the situation as it unfolds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Zeke, Giants, McCoy

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott managed to escape a suspension for a potentially troublesome incident in May, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggests that if Elliott should even come close to violating the league’s personal conduct policy again, the punishment will be severe. Commissioner Roger Goodell gave everyone in the league office this week off, so Florio believes the only reason for Goodell to summon Elliott to league headquarters on Tuesday was to sufficiently scare him into staying on the straight and narrow. Goodell has been less harsh with players who run afoul of league policies in recent history, but if Elliott should put another toe out of line in the future, the commissioner will likely hand out a lengthy ban, and his decision to not suspend Elliott this time will help to justify such a measure.

Now for more the league’s east divisions:

  • There do not seem to be any starting jobs up for grabs along the Giants‘ defensive line, even though the presumptive starters are young and mostly unproven. However, with that youth comes a great deal of potential, and one of the keys to Big Blue’s immediate prospects is the realization of that potential. Third-year player Dalvin Tomlinson, second-year talent B.J. Hill, and rookie Dexter Lawrence are expected to open the season atop the Giants’ D-line depth chart, as Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes, and the addition of Lawrence allows Tomlinson to slide into a traditional nose tackle spot, to which he is better-suited.
  • In a separate 2019 positional preview piece, Schwartz examines the Giants‘ tight end group, which is headed by Evan Engram. Engram had a disappointing start to 2018, his second professional season, but when Odell Beckham missed the final four games of the season, Engram excelled and finished with some positive momentum. Now that OBJ is in Cleveland, New York will need Engram to show more of the same in a crucial year for his development. The club’s second TE, Rhett Ellison, is a favorite of HC Pat Shurmur, while returnee Scott Simonson will have to hold off C.J. Conrad — a UDFA who impressed this spring — and former Syracuse QB Eric Dungey, another UDFA who is trying to make the club as a TE/gadget player.
  • Vic Carucci of BNBlitz.com says it’s possible that Bills GM Brandon Beane and LeSean McCoy have adamantly pushed the notion that McCoy will be the team’s starter in 2019 in order to generate some trade interest. After all, the club does have a large stable of RBs, and McCoy, a 2020 free agent, appears to be nearing the end of his career. But Carucci says he has heard nothing to indicate that Buffalo is seeking to trade McCoy.
  • In the same piece, Carucci says he believes Levi Wallace will start for the Bills at cornerback opposite TreDavious White.
  • In case you missed it, we heard this morning that Cowboys edge rusher Randy Gregory will be applying for reinstatement shortly.
  • Also from this morning: the Giants may deploy safety Jabrill Peppers as their primary punt returner.

NFC Notes: Pierre-Paul, Buccaneers, Kiser, Rams, Elliott, Cowboys

Jason Pierre-Paul doesn’t appear particularly close to returning to football activities. The Buccaneers defensive end shared a video of himself to Instagram recently, in which he can be seen wearing a bulky brace on his neck, per Florida Football Insiders. Pierre-Paul, of course, suffered a serious neck injury in a car accident back in May. At the time there was concern he’d miss the entire season, but JPP ended up avoiding surgery and as of right now the hope is he’ll be able to return at some point this year.

That being said, he’s still going to be sidelined for a significant period of time, and the last we heard is that he’ll be out until November at the earliest. FFI has details on the accident, including that his car “did a 360 degree wipeout into a guardrail.” The injury was a massive blow to the Buccaneers’ defense, which is hoping for a resurgence under new coach Bruce Arians. JPP had his best season in years in 2018, racking up 12.5 sacks. Tampa will need some unproven players to step up for their pass-rush in his place, and hopefully the former Giant can make it back as soon as possible.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • The Rams cut Mark Barron earlier this offseason, leaving them very thin at inside linebacker. They also didn’t resign Ramik Wilson, who started a handful of games when Barron was hurt last year. Cory Littleton is the entrenched starter at one inside linebacker spot, and second-year player Micah Kiser is “the odds-on favorite” to start next to him, per Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic. It’s a risky move, since Kiser doesn’t have much experience. In fact, the 2018 fifth-round pick didn’t play a single snap on defense last year. That being said, the Virginia product was a big contributor on special teams and the coaching staff has expressed confidence in him. Sean McVay and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips know what they’re doing, so it’s safe to assume Kiser is ready.
  • Ezekiel Elliott got some good news earlier today, when it was announced that he wouldn’t be suspended for an incident involving a security guard in Las Vegas back in May. While he ended up getting off without punishment, it sounds like the league took the investigation very seriously. In addition to speaking to Elliott, the NFL also spoke to his girlfriend, a source told Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Obviously nothing came of it, but it shows the investigation went pretty deep and wasn’t dismissed easily. In other Elliott news, we also heard earlier today that the Cowboys no longer believe they can put-off extending the young running back.
  • In case you missed it, Josh Doctson doesn’t expect to be back with the Redskins in 2020.

Cowboys Notes: Prescott, Cooper, Elliott, Collins, Smith

The Cowboys are fortunate to have a lot of young talent. But one downside that comes with having a lot of young talent, is that sooner or later you have to pay them all. Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper are all looking for extensions, and Dallas is going to have to break the bank. Prescott is likely looking to top what Carson Wentz just got, meaning he’ll demand $30MM-plus annually. Quietly, there have been some rumblings that the team isn’t in any rush to extend Elliott. It makes sense because Elliott has the most time left on his deal, but it’s interesting nonetheless. There’s been a lot of concern about how they’ll fit all three players under the cap, but Calvin Watkins of The Athletic writes that you shouldn’t be concerned.

Talking about those key three as well as safety Byron Jones, Watkins writes that the team is “optimistic they can take care of all of them.” Watkins says that the Cowboys did in fact put Elliott on the back-burner before, but that’s no longer the case. “The team no longer believes they can wait on extending him in 2020,” as he could get too expensive by then, Watkins writes. They’re now going to try to lock him up this summer as well, and Watkins does some of the math that shows they should be able to squeeze them all in. Watkins does admit there could be some possible complications, but everything seems on track for the Cowboys to be able to extend all their guys.

  • While the aforementioned four players can all expect to be taken care of, the same can’t be said of offensive lineman La’el Collins. Watkins writes that Collins “could be one player out the door,” in order to make room for the extensions in future years. Collins “is due for a new contract next spring, but Cowboys officials are expected to let him test free agency,” Watkins reports. The team’s right tackle, Collins has started all 16 games each of the last two seasons, so this would be a big departure. Although he’s been reliable, the team has never seemed too enamored with him, so this isn’t shocking. Collins is still only 25 and will be seeking a massive contract next offseason, and it sounds like he could get priced out of Dallas’ range.
  • In the same piece, Watkins also has some news on linebacker Jaylon Smith. Smith was the 34th overall pick in 2016, and normally a 2016 second-round pick would be scheduled for unrestricted free agency next offseason. But because of language in the CBA, Smith will have only accrued three years of service time once this year is over. Smith, of course, was inactive his entire rookie season due to a serious injury suffered toward the end of his college career. Because of this, Smith will be a restricted free agent next spring. A source told Watkins that “the team is expected to place a second-round tender on him.” That means the Cowboys will be able to match whatever offer Smith gets from a team, and if they let him walk that team would have to give Dallas their second-round pick. Most teams aren’t willing to pay that price, which means the Cowboys will likely get Smith back at a discount next year.
  • In case you missed it, Elliott won’t be suspended by the league.

No Suspension For Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott

The NFL has decided against discipline for Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott in connection with his May incident. Here is the league’s statement, in full: 

Immediately following reports of an incident in Las Vegas in May involving Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys, the NFL conducted a comprehensive investigation that included interviews with multiple witnesses, including security personnel and others with direct involvement, as well as a review of documentary and other information.

On Tuesday, as part of the review, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with Mr. Elliott to reinforce the standards of conduct expected of him and the consequences for failing to meet those standards.

Mr. Elliott acknowledged that he demonstrated poor judgment and committed to make better choices in the future. He volunteered to take advantage of the resources available to help him continue to grow personally.

Commissioner Goodell determined there was no violation of the personal conduct policy and no further action is warranted.

A suspension was viewed as unlikely for Elliott, but not out of the realm of possibility given his history with the league. Elliott was banned for six games in 2017 for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, despite no criminal charges being filed in connection with past allegations of domestic abuse.

In May, Elliott was briefly detained by police at a Las Vegas concert after bumping a security guard. The event gained national headlines after TMZ procured video, putting the onus on the NFL to act. Ultimately, after a lengthy investigation, the league opted against suspending the soon-to-be 24-year-old.

Elliott avoided a ban this time around, but it sounds like he’ll be on even thinner ice going forward.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ezekiel Elliott On Meeting With Commissioner

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott met with commissioner Roger Goodell today to discuss a May incident in Las Vegas during which Elliott was briefly detained by police after bumping a security guard. After the summit with Goodell, Elliott released the following statement on Twitter:

“Earlier today, I met with the Commissioner to share with him what occurred in Las Vegas and what I have learned from that incident. I’ve worked hard to make better decisions and to live up to the high standards that are expected of me. I failed to do that here and I made a poor decision. I apologized to [security guard] Kyle Johnson at the time and I meant it. I need to work harder to ensure that I do not put myself in compromised situations in the future. I am rededicating myself to use all of the resources that the league has made available. But in the end, it is up to me and I am determined not to be in this position again.”

Elliott certainly sounds like a man who has gotten a thorough talking-to, and his contrition may be enough to stave off a suspension. Given Elliott’s track record, though, Goodell may well have warned the two-time rushing champion that even minor incidents like this one could be more damaging to him than they would be to a player without a disciplinary history.

Veteran NFL reporter Ed Werder said he does not expect Zeke to be hit with a suspension (Twitter link), and Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says that no criminal charges are expected to be filed. Hill also reports that Johnson hugged Elliott and took a picture with him after the incident, though he later requested a sincere apology.

Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network also hears from league sources that Elliott is unlikely to be suspended, and that the meeting with Goodell was more of an opportunity for the commissioner to warn Elliott to keep himself out of potentially troublesome situations going forward (video link). Interestingly, Garafolo adds that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sent team counsel to the meeting, even though such meetings are generally attended by an NFLPA rep and/or the player’s own lawyer. Jones and Goodell have apparently reconciled enough to work together on the new CBA, but matters involving Elliott still seem to be sensitive for Jones.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Roger Goodell To Meet With Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott could be in trouble with the NFL once again. On Tuesday, commissioner Roger Goodell will meet with the Cowboys running back to discuss his May incident in Las Vegas, a source tells ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (on Twitter). 

Elliott was briefly detained by police at a concert after bumping a security guard. The event gained national headlines after TMZ procured video, putting the onus on the NFL to act. If the NFL finds that Elliott “threatened physical violence against another person,” that could spell trouble for the 23-year-old (24 in July).

As you surely know by now, a player can be subject to penalty under the NFL’s personal conduct policy without an arrest. His suspension history with the league also doesn’t help matters. Elliott was suspended six games in 2017 under the personal-conduct policy, stemming from an alleged incident in 2016 involving a former girlfriend in Columbus, Ohio.

Last 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. Still, losing him for any period of time would be a bad blow for Dallas.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Unlikely To Extend Ezekiel Elliott?

Following the DeMarcus Lawrence extension, the Cowboys’ talks with their bevy of standouts have stagnated. But their priorities have become clear. The Cowboys have begun re-up discussions with Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, and despite acknowledging Ezekiel Elliott is “the straw that stirs the drink” for them, the fourth-year running back appears to be on the team’s back-burner.

And they might not any time soon. Based on talks with several close to this process, ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano notes the Cowboys are not only unlikely to extend Elliott in 2019 but possibly will go through 2020 with the two-time rushing champion still tethered to his rookie deal.

Elliott being under contract for two more seasons, with his fifth-year option worth only $9.1MM, and the prospect of a 2021 franchise tag makes the Cowboys comfortable they can retain Elliott at a reasonable price for a while, Graziano adds. Elliott participated in Dallas’ offseason activities, and a recent report indicated the parties were on the same page. But the two-time Pro Bowler’s patience with this situation figures to soon be tested.

The 23-year-old back watched Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson each sign for at least $13MM per year, and Elliott has amassed a historic workload through his first three seasons. No running back has more touches than Elliott (1,003) since 2016, despite the Ohio State alum missing eight games because of suspension and Week 17 rest, and only two backs (Edgerrin James and LaDainian Tomlinson) have ever accumulated more touches per game than Elliott (25.1) through three seasons. Another high-volume season, at a $3.9MM base salary, would be a risky proposition for the former No. 4 overall pick.

The Cowboys may not only view Prescott and Cooper deals as more pressing matters, but Graziano adds a Byron Jones extension may be a higher priority as well. This makes sense, given these players are in contract years and Elliott is now signed through 2020. But Elliott’s 2017 suspension helped keep that Cowboys iteration out of the playoffs, and among this sect of extension candidates, he is the only first-team All-Pro.

While a holdout would stand to weaken the defending NFC East champions, Elliott would be subject to fines for missing training camp. And from the team’s perspective, these high-end running back deals obviously come with risk due to running backs’ short shelf lives. Nevertheless, Elliott’s next move will be interesting.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL To Investigate Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott

The NFL will likely review Ezekiel Elliott‘s Las Vegas incident to determine whether he violated the terms of previous suspension guidelines, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports hears. Elliott, who was banned for six games for alleged acts of physical abuse against an ex-girlfriend, could theoretically be hit with another suspension from the league office. 

When asked about Elliott’s latest issue last week, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters, “I don’t see that having any consequences for us.” Jones may be outwardly confident, but Robinson hears the Cowboys believe that the running back has been unfairly put under a microscope by commissioner Roger Goodell.

Elliott was briefly handcuffed at a concert earlier this month after bumping a security guard and TMZ procured video of the incident. If the NFL finds that Elliott “threatened physical violence against another person,” that could spell trouble for the 23-year-old (24 in July).

Meanwhile, the Cowboys are discussing an extension with Elliott that would make him the league’s highest-paid running back.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.