Ezekiel Elliott

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott Discusses Role, Contract

Following a 2020 campaign that saw Ezekiel Elliott finish with a career-low 16.3 touches per game, the veteran running back has only seen 27 carries (13.5 per game) through the first two contests of the 2021 season. His decreasing role in the offense has drawn the ire of Cowboys fans, especially after Elliott inked a lucrative six-year, $90MM extension following a brief 2019 holdout. When asked if he’s bothered by the criticism surrounding his contract and role, Elliott predictably said he ignores the talk.

“You hear it but what really matters is what’s going on in this building,” Elliott said (via Calvin Watkins of The Dallas Morning News). “So I mean, they’re not the one signing the checks. They’re not the ones sending the wires. So I mean … I don’t think it matters.”

Of course, a lack of touches isn’t necessarily Elliott’s fault. As Watkins points out, the running back had 20+ carries in 21 games between 2017 and 2019 while playing under Jason Garrett. Over the past year-plus, Elliott has exceeded 20 carries in only three games while playing under head coach Mike McCarthy. Plus, backup Tony Pollard has transformed into a useful piece in the Cowboys offense, and the 24-year-old has outperformed his teammate through the first two games of the season (Pollard has 183 yards and one touchdown on 23 touches, Elliott has 136 yards and one touchdown on 31 touches).

While Elliott will be hard pressed to reach the 1,756 all-purpose yards he averaged through his first four seasons in the NFL, he’s more than willing to watch his teammates succeed.

“It’s a brotherhood,” Elliott said. “Every week we all got the same goal, the same common goal and that’s the goal to win football games. However we got to do that, that’s what we got to do. I see Tony, I see the work he puts in, he’s one of the hardest workers on the team and he’s very talented. He deserves to go out there and play well.”

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Cowboys Rework Ezekiel Elliott’s Deal

The Cowboys have converted $8.6MM of Ezekiel Elliott‘s $9.6M base salary into a signing bonus (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). The move gives the Cowboys an extra $6.88M in cap space for the current year by spreading that obligation across future seasons.

The restructuring leaves Dallas with an estimated $12MM in room for the current year. That’ll give them enough room to swing a substantial trade between now and the fall deadline. Or, if they don’t make a huge splash, they can roll some of those dollars to next year.

Elliott is signed through 2026 thanks to the six-year, $90MM re-up he signed a couple years back. The revision doesn’t change much on his end — Zeke remains tied for the second-highest average annual value in the league among running backs. Knotted with Alvin Kamara, Panthers star Christian McCaffrey is the only RB to rank higher.

The Cowboys are hoping that Elliott can get back to his old form in 2021. The three-time Pro Bowler finished 2020 with just 979 yards and a 4.0 yards per carry average.

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NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Elliott, Eagles, Hyde

Ezekiel Elliott is not experiencing any complications after testing positive for COVID-19 (via David Moore of the Dallas Morning News). Assuming Elliott stays healthy and largely symptom-free, that should bode well for the Cowboys‘ star running back in the long haul.

Earlier this week, Elliott was one of four players (two from the Cowboys, two from the Texans) to test positive for the coronavirus. Other players are being tested as a precaution, but no additional positive cases have emerged from either club. Furthermore, quarterback Dak Prescott did not test positive, despite hosting a widely-criticized birthday party earlier this year.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

Latest On Cowboys-Texans COVID-19 Results

Several players from the Cowboys and Texans tested positive for COVID-19. All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott was among this contingent. Here is the latest fallout from the Texas teams’ coronavirus exposure:

  • Monday’s report indicated the players who contracted the virus were not at team facilities. Elliott and the other players who tested positive did so after being informed they had come in contact with a person with COVID-19, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Fewer than five players comprise the group that tested positive, and Moore adds that none of these players have been at team facilities this offseason. Players who are not rehabbing injuries remain barred from teams’ headquarters.
  • Dak Prescott did not test positive, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link, via Twitter). The Cowboys quarterback came under some scrutiny earlier this offseason for hosting a birthday party with several guests during the lockdown period. But the 26-year-old passer is healthy.
  • Many Texans players are undergoing COVID-19 tests for precautionary reasons, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Texas has recorded its highest number of coronavirus cases four days running. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced in May sporting events could feature fans in stadiums — at 25% capacity. Less than two weeks ago, Abbott declared stadiums could operate at 50% capacity. It remains to be seen if the recent spike will alter the state’s plans. Both the Cowboys and Texans are slated to hold training camp in Texas.
  • The scare that hit the NFL’s Texas teams has caught the attention of coaches. One NFL head coach said the NFL needs to delay the start of the season, Ed Werder of ESPN.com tweets, adding that another coach questioned the logic of playing games during the pandemic altogether. The NFL has nixed minicamps but, as of now, has training camps slated to open less than six weeks from today. The Cowboys and Steelers are scheduled to be the guinea pigs for NFL operation during the pandemic, being set to begin their respective training camps July 22.

Cowboys, Texans Players Test Positive For COVID-19

Several players from the Texans and Cowboys have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). The list includes Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, per Rapoport (Twitter link). It’s believed that those players were not in their respective team’s facilities, which hopefully means that there will not be further viral spread in either locker room. 

[RELATED: Dez Bryant Receiving NFL Interest]

Due to regulations, the players who tested positive have not been disclosed publicly. In total, four players have been found to have COVID-19, according to a source who spoke with Mike Florio of PFT. Two of those players are from the Cowboys (including Elliott) and two are from the Texans.

Due to federal and local privacy laws, we are unable to provide information regarding the personal health of any of our employees,” said the Cowboys in their statement.

The NFL has pledged to do everything in its power to identify positive cases as they arise and prevent further spread. So far, it appears that plan has worked.

Broncos linebacker Von Miller, Saints head coach Sean Payton, and other NFL employees have tested positive for coronavirus this offseason. With more known cases, the NFL may need to adjust its game plan and schedule for summer activities. For now, the league intends to launch in-person training camp in July, followed by preseason games in August. However, this year’s preseason may be shortened from four games to two.

The same goes for the college ranks, where at least five Alabama players have tested positive for the virus. For now, the NCAA is hoping to have coaches working with players by July 13th, followed by four weeks of camp.

WR Amari Cooper To Re-Sign With Cowboys

Amari Cooper is about to get paid. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the star wideout intends to re-sign with the Cowboys on a five-year, $100MM deal. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the deal contains a whopping $60MM in guaranteed money.

While Cooper hasn’t necessarily established himself as one of the league’s top-tier receivers, it always seemed like he was heading towards a contract that would pay him $20MM per season. Wideouts of Cooper’s caliber or age rarely reach free agency, so it was clear that the Cowboys would have to come close to Julio Jones’ $22MM-per-year deal. Ultimately, Cooper’s $20MM average annual value will rank second at the position, bumping Michael Thomas‘ $19.25MM-AAV to the third spot.

A number of teams have been loosely connected to Cooper throughout the offseason, but Schefter tweets that one rival was pushing hard for the receiver’s services: the Washington Redskins. As Schefter notes, the Redskins pursued Cooper today and tried “to pry him away” from their divisional rival. The Broncos were also recently mentioned as a potential suitor.

Cooper earned his fourth career Pro Bowl nod following another productive season in 2019. In 16 games, the 25-year-old hauled in 79 catches for a career-high 1,189 receiving yards and a career-high eight receiving touchdowns. Cooper joined the Cowboys midway through the 2018 season following a trade with the Raiders.

Now, the Cowboys can focus on extending Dak Prescott to a new contract. Earlier today, we learned that the organization was placing the exclusive franchise tag on their Pro Bowl quarterback. At the same time, the organization watched as cornerback Byron Jones inked a lucrative deal with the Dolphins. Considering the cap constraints, it’s not surprising that ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that the front office restructured the deals of both running back Ezekiel Elliott and offensive tackle La’el Collins earlier today.

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Cowboys Notes: Elliott, Prescott, Cooper

With the Cowboys having extended running back Ezekiel Elliott, focus now turns to quarterback Dak Prescott and wideout Amari Cooper. The Cowboys are hopeful that they can complete deals by Sunday’s season opener, although executive vice president Stephen Jones seemed a bit more cautious in his optimism.

“Don’t ever say never,” Jones said (via ESPN’s Todd Archer). “The season doesn’t start until Sunday. We still got three or four days here. Obviously we’ve ended up signing a few players we didn’t necessarily know we were going to sign, but at the same time, I certainly felt optimistic that we can get these guys. Whether it’s by the start of the season or if it goes over that, it does. That was our goal. Sometimes you don’t get it quite done on the exact timing that you had hoped, but obviously the ultimate goal is to get them signed.”

Prescott also expressed some hope that a deal would get done, but he also acknowledged that his entire focus is on this weekend’s contest against the Giants.

“Obviously I want to see it done,” Prescott said. “To put a time frame on it, I think I’ve said this before, I’m not going to do that. At this point my focus is all on the Giants and the Giants defense and what this team needs to do to win the game. And next week it will roll to the next opponent. I don’t want to blur my mind or distract myself any with thinking about those talks or thinking about what’s going on when I’ve got enough on my plate to handle. So I’m just focused on the Giants and I’ve got people to take care of [the contract].”

Let’s check out some more notes out of Dallas…

  • As David Moore of the Dallas News points out, the Cowboys have handed out more than $300MM ($185.5MM guaranteed) to four players over the past five months: Elliott, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, linebacker Jaylon Smith, and offensive lineman La’el Collins. Now, the front office has to fit Prescott and Cooper into their budget, but Moore sounds confident that the organization will get the duo signed thanks to Jerry Jones’ willingness to take risks. Ultimately, the owner doesn’t want a repeat of last season, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to optimize the 2019 squad.
  • The Cowboys were granted a roster exemption for Elliott that will expire on September 16th, tweets NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. This means the team doesn’t have to make room for the running back on the active roster until that date, although they can still carry only 46 players on game day.
  • Rapoport also tweets that the Cowboys aren’t concerned about Elliott’s preseason absence. The 24-year-old already has 868 career carries, an indicator that he’s plenty familiar with the offense. Ultimately, the team was confident that whenever the running back showed up, he’d be ready to go.
  • ESPN’s Mike Tannenbaum observes (on Twitter) that the Cowboys only gave Elliott a $7.5MM signing bonus, which is a far cry from Todd Gurley‘s $21MM signing bonus. That means the rest of the running back’s $42.55MM can be voided if he’s hit with another suspension. Ultimately, the Cowboys got protection in case of any off-field issues, but they also are willing to pay Elliott as long as he stays out of trouble. Meanwhile, Albert Breer of TheMMQB tweets that the Cowboys effectively gave Elliott a fully-guaranteed deal through four years, which is pretty unprecedented for the position.

Latest On Ezekiel Elliott’s Extension

Ezekiel Elliott‘s long-rumored extension was finalized early Wednesday morning, and more details are now available. Of the $50MM fully guaranteed in this six-year, $90MM re-up, only $28.1MM is fully guaranteed at signing. That still places Elliott second among running backs, behind only Saquon Barkley‘s rookie deal.

However, Elliott will soon be in line to bump that guaranteed figure north of $37MM. In addition to his $7.5MM signing bonus, a $752K 2019 base salary and a fully guaranteed $19.8MM option bonus due in March, a $9.6MM injury guarantee for 2021 becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2020 league year, Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk reports. The same structure is in place for the 2022 season, only that March 2021 injury-to-full guarantee transition involves a $12.4MM figure.

Altogether, Elliott being a Cowboy in mid-March of 2021 would secure him $50.1MM — the most guaranteed money for a running back.

This extension does include a $15MM AAV, though it took a through-2026 pact to for the Cowboys and Elliott to get there. Todd Gurley ($14.38MM AAV) is signed through 2023. Elliott only counts $6.3MM against Dallas’ 2019 cap; that figure climbs to $10.9MM in 2020, $13.7MM in 2021 and $16.5MM in 2022, per Spotrac. In 2023, the Cowboys could get out of the deal with only a $6.7MM dead-money charge. After 2022, this would stand to be a year-to-year proposition for the Cowboys.

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Cowboys Sign Ezekiel Elliott To Extension

It’s a done deal for the Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott. At long last, America’s Team has ended America’s biggest ongoing football saga by inking a brand new extension with the star running back. 

Elliott’s new deal will give him $90MM over the course of a six-year add-on. The deal includes a whopping $50MM in guarantees, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter) hears, though it’s unclear how much is fully guaranteed at signing.

More importantly, perhaps, the deal will bring an end to his 40-day holdout. With that, Elliott will take the field on Sunday against the Giants for the club’s 2019 season opener.

It remains to be seen how Elliott will adjust to the quick turnaround, as well as the plays of new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. On the plus side, Moore’s offensive game plan is not believed to be a radical departure from the playbook of last year. Also, head coach Jason Garrett seems to think that Elliott will be able to pick up where he left off.

Zeke is as capable as anybody I know,” Garrett said. “He’s an experienced player, he’s been a really good player for us, he knows our system of football. I don’t think they’ll be a lot of learning there. He’s a smart guy, an instinctive guy.”

In theory, the new deal ties Elliott to the Cowboys for the next eight seasons, though the exact breakdown of the deal may reveal that it’s something more akin to a four or five-year commitment for Dallas. Either way – it’s a lengthy add-on with enough cash to satisfy Zeke.

Here’s what we do know: Elliott’s “new money,” on average, gives him $15MM per season. That’s enough to match the league-high AAV for running backs, a mantle that used to belong solely to Rams star Todd Gurley.

Next up for the Cowboys – new deals for quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper. If they ink both players to long-term deals, they’ll likely have Top 5 AAVs at the QB, RB, and WR position.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Ezekiel Elliott

It was reported earlier today that Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys were nearing an agreement on a six-year, $90MM extension. While we are not quite across the goal line, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Elliott is flying back to Dallas to be ready in the event that he and the team come to terms on an agreement.

Owner Stephen Jones and Elliott’s agent, Rocky Arceneaux, are scheduled to meet this evening, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News reports (Twitter link). Moore cautions that a deal has not yet been agreed to, even in principle.

Elliott has a desire to surpass Todd Gurley‘s near $15MM AAV deal and become the highest-paid running back the league. The previously reported deal would do just enough to accomplish that goal and it would surpass Gurley’s deal in length by two seasons. The eight-year extension would keep Zeke under contract through the 2026 season, though as our own Zach Links previously noted, it may not be a true eight-year deal based on the guarantees, cash flow and overall structure of the arrangement.

The Cowboys are not seeking a front-loaded contract, as Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports relays on Twitter. The scribe notes that the 30 percent rule has been a barrier in striking a deal thus far.

Dallas agreed to a five-year extension with La’el Collins earlier today with sources telling ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link) that the deal created $5.7MM in cap space for the Cowboys this season. Such a move could be designed to facilitate a new Elliott contract.

Should Elliott sign today, the Cowboys expect him to play on Sunday against the Giants. Arceneux flew quarterback Tanner Lee, who is also his client, to Cabo to help the running back work on his passing game and two-minute offense, as ESPN’s Ed Werder relays (Twitter link). Hall-of-Fame running back Marshall Faulk has also been working out with Elliott in Mexico.

The Cowboys called up RB Jordan Chunn from the practice squad and they have rookie Tony Pollard and Alfred Morris in the fold, so Dallas has a full backfield ready in the event that Elliott doesn’t sign this week. Pollard is rumored to be the strongest candidate for a lead-back role if Elliott misses any games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.