Should Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout reset Dallas Cowboys’ contract priorities?

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Two-time NFL leading rusher, Ezekiel Elliott, is holding out for a new contract, so would it now be wise for the Dallas Cowboys to reassess their contract priorities?

The Dallas Cowboys are in the process of negotiating multiple massive contract extensions right now. Players like Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and Byron Jones are all entering the last years on their deals. And right behind those three are Ezekiel Elliott, Jaylon Smith, and Xavier Woods – also core players expecting some financial “love” sooner rather than later.

Up until now, Dak Prescott has taken clear priority on the Dallas Cowboys’ to-do list. Prescott’s status amongst the best signal callers in the NFL may be debatable, but the importance of his position is undeniable. We see teams search decades looking for a viable starter like Dak, and in a league so heavily tilted towards the passing game, winning without a +QB is next to impossible.

The same can’t be said for running back. Ezekiel Elliott has watched the value of position go bearish right before his very eyes. #RunningBacksDontMatter has been ruling the day, and NFL front offices are adjusting accordingly.

Note: The Todd Gurley contract is widely seen around the league as a mistake and owners are attempting to re-set the market for RBs to be much lower. As Josh Hermsmeyer pointed out, Overthecap reports the average team salary for RBs has fallen from 6.8 percent to 4.5 percent. 

It’s not just the math nerds, analytics gurus, and front offices either – it’s the notoriously laggard national media that’s starting to come around to the numbers. The more people start following the facts rather than their feelings, the more Zeke and his bell cow brethren feel like they’re getting disrespected.

The Priority List

Up until now, Zeke’s been regarded as no more than No. 3 on Dallas’ to-do list. Dak and Amari Cooper have taken priority. With free agency only a year away for Dak and Amari, it makes sense why they are taking priority.

But Zeke flipped the script with his current holdout. He just placed some urgency on his own deal and even though his free agency is still two seasons away, he’s insisting on a new deal right now. It’s understandable given the devaluing climate we discussed above. By next year, RB value will likely have dropped even more. He’s trying the strike a deal before his market tanks.

So does that change things for the Dallas Cowboys? Does Zeke now bump to the front of the line? Or at least, second in line, behind Dak?

The answer simply has to be, “no”.

Never mind the fact that prioritizing Zeke now, only encourages his behavior. This inevitably encourages other teammates to hold the Cowboys hostage whenever they want to get their way.

Any parent can attest, this is a dangerous precedent to set. In much the same way a child throws a fit in a store to get a parent to buy candy, Zeke is testing the Cowboys brass. If the Cowboys give in now and hand Zeke a new deal before they initially intended to, they’ve been negatively reinforced. And worse yet, the poor behavior has been positively reinforced, encouraging other to follow suit.

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Wait and see

Word is the Dallas Cowboys are extremely close to finalizing a deal with Prescott. So there’s a good chance we’ll get resolution there in the next couple weeks. This will let them move their attention elsewhere. Additionally, if Zeke sits out any longer than the first week of August, he risks adding a year to his clock before he gets to unrestricted free agency. That would be asinine.

The Dallas Cowboys are playing this situation cool because they don’t expect this carry on much longer. Eventually a deal will likely be struck between Zeke and the Cowboys. But it’s doubtful the timeline was impacted by his absence in camp.

Next. How and Why Running Backs Matter in the NFL. dark

Even if you love Zeke and consider him the Dallas Cowboys most important weapon on offense, it doesn’t make sense to cave during these contract negotiations.  Zeke’s under contract for two more seasons and if he keeps holding out it becomes three. The Cowboys have the leverage here and are acting accordingly.

  • Published on 07/30/2019 at 12:01 PM
  • Last updated at 07/30/2019 at 11:02 AM