Ezekiel Elliott

Cowboys Notes: Cooper, Elliott, Prescott

The Cowboys face the possibility of losing a number of their big-name players on both sides of the ball. The most notable of those – not just in terms of pedigree, but also how much his contract will affect the rest of the team’s offseason plans – is Amari Cooper. Recent comments from executive vice president Stephen Jones won’t be confused with a ringing endorsement of the wideout.

As ESPN’s Todd Archer writes, Jones was non-committal when asked if Cooper would remain with the Cowboys through next season. “It’s too early for me to address that yet… we’re continuing to have conversations”, he said. Questions surrounding the 28-year-old have increased recently, due to structure of his contract. There is no more guaranteed money left on Cooper’s deal, creating the possibility the team could get out of a $22MM cap hit in each of the next three years, while incurring relatively little dead money.

The former fourth overall pick had his least productive full season in Dallas last year. While his numbers (68 catches for 865 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games) were still noteworthy, they fell short of expectations given his Pro Bowl pedigree, along with his contract. Moving on from Cooper could lead to a substantial overhaul of the Cowboys’ receiving corps, as Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson are each pending free agents, leaving CeeDee Lamb as essentially the only sure thing at the position.

Here are some other Dallas notes, including more remarks from Jones:

  • In contrast to Cooper, Jones spoke with more certainty about Ezekiel Elliott, saying “He’s going to be here, no question. We’re fortunate to have him”. With his money being guaranteed, that confirmation shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, Archer notes, but it is still notable given the fact Elliott played through a knee injury all season. Despite being banged up, he produced 1,289 scrimmage yards and 12 total touchdowns in 2021.
  • On a more general note, Jones suggested the Cowboys won’t treat this offseason as an ‘all-in’ year while sacrificing future cap flexibility. “We could do some things that would allow us to keep most of our guys if we wanted to push it all out, but then we’d have a much bigger problem next year and the year after”, he said (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Jon Machota). The Cowboys are currently projected to be over the cap, with several big-ticket free agents (including Randy Gregory and Dalton Schultz) still to be re-signed.
  • Lastly, head coach Mike McCarthy announced at the Combine that Dak Prescott had surgery on his left (i.e. non-throwing) shoulder at the beginning of the offseason, Field Yates of ESPN tweets. McCarthy has “no concern” about Prescott’s availability for offseason workouts, an encouraging sign given his injury history in Dallas.

Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott Has Partially Torn PCL, Won’t Have Surgery

One day after another disappointing playoff exit marked the end to the Cowboys’ season, it was revealed exactly what had been ailing their top running back. Ezekiel Elliott had been playing much of the season with a partially torn PCL, although he will not require offseason surgery, according to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News

The injury took place in Week 4 against the Panthers, but he was able to play through it without missing any of the team’s games. He looked to be off to a great start in 2022 at that point, having scored four touchdowns and averaging more than five yards per carry. He had another big day the following week against the Giants – 21 carries for 110 yards and another touchdown – but seemed to be increasingly bothered by the injury beyond that. The team considered resting him for a game or two in November, but decided against it. Wearing a brace for the final five games of the regular season, as well as last night’s loss to the 49ers, the 26-year-old never topped 87 rushing yards from Week 6 onwards.

In the playoff game itself, Elliott totalled just 31 yards on 12 carries, and caught only one of four targets for no gain. When asked about the injury that clearly slowed him down, he said “I just partially tore my PCL this year”. He added that “it was an injury that wasn’t going to get worse”, which is why he played through it for almost an entire season. He concluded by saying “I feel like everyone else in that locker room would have done the same”.

The fact that Elliott was far from 100% makes it curious that backup Tony Pollard was as uninvolved as he was on Sunday. While he was able to resume his usual kick-retuning duties, Pollard had a total of six touches for a combined 26 yards. At this point, the team can only hope they are each healthy for the start of next year, as their offseason has now begun earlier than expected.

Tony Pollard Uncertain For Week 14

As things currently stand, the Cowboys are unsure what their running back situation will look like for Week 14. Backup Tony Pollard has called himself a “game-time decision,” per ESPN’s Ed Werder (via Twitter). 

Pollard said he suffered a torn left plantar fascia while scoring a touchdown against the Saints in Week 13, via the Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken. The foot injury kept the third-year running back out of practice Wednesday, and Pollard said he is still feeling pain from the tear. With Ezekiel Elliott battling a knee injury, the Cowboys’ high-end backfield setup has taken a hit.

Pollard has enjoyed his best season to date, turning 107 carries into 602 yards and two touchdowns while adding 31 receptions for 259 yards along with a return touchdown. He delivered the Cowboys’ biggest offensive play during their win over the Saints, but that 58-yard dash — the Cowboys’ longest run in four years — proved somewhat costly.

Meanwhile, Elliott is improving from his knee injury, according to Mike McCarthy (via Werder, on Twitter). McCarthy expects both backs to play Sunday, when the Cowboys visit Washington.

Latest On Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott might be out for a little while. The Cowboys are thinking about holding the running back out of Thursday night’s game against the Saints as he heals up from his knee injury (Twitter link via Ed Werder of ESPN.com). 

On the plus side, it doesn’t sound like Elliott will need to go on injured reserve, which would rule him out for at least three weeks.

It’s that time of year,” head coach Mike McCarthy said this week (Twitter link via Todd Archer of ESPN.com). “Zeke’s running style is ferocious. He gives a pounding and he takes some hits. We need to evaluate that and this week we’ll see what the preparation looks like for him.”

Elliott’s knee has clearly been bothering him. Over the last five games, he’s totaled less than 200 yards while averaging 3.43 yards per carry. And, on Thursday night against the Raiders, Zeke was held to just 25 yards, his lowest total of the year.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys have lost three of their past four games, dropping them to 7-4 on the year. That’s still good enough for first in the woeful NFC East, though the Eagles are trending upwards and still within striking distance.

If Elliott can’t go against the Saints, the Cowboys will use Tony Pollard as their lead back with support from Corey Clement. And, if Zeke needs extra time to recover, they may want to consider a promotion for practice squader JaQuan Hardy.

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.”

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.

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. 

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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.