The Cowboys have every intention of keeping Ezekiel Elliott for years to come, but that doesn’t mean they’ll rush to give the running back a new contract.
No one with the Cowboys disputes how important Ezekiel Elliott is to the team’s success, but sometimes actions speak louder than words. That’s why it’s interesting to learn that the team’s front office is in no rush to sign the franchise running back to a new contract.
In fairness to Cowboys’ COO Stephen Jones, Elliott won’t enter into the last year of his rookie contract until 2020. That means Dallas has ample time to work on a new deal to keep the running back wearing the star for years to come. Jones makes no secret of his belief that he has “a couple of years” to get a deal with Elliott done.
That isn’t good news for Elliott. It’s in his best interest to get a new deal as soon as possible. The shelf life of premier NFL running backs is remarkably short. Barring injury, he’s going to continue to get a ton of carries from the Cowboys over the next two seasons. Any noticeable dip in his productivity, or an injury, could end up costing Elliott a ton of cash.
On the flip side, if Elliott can maintain his terrific form throughout the full five years of his rookie deal it could serve to put a ton of pressure on the organization to lock him up with a big-money deal. Dallas could always choose to franchise tag Elliott after his rookie deal expires, but the optics of that wouldn’t be great for a team that prides itself on taking care of its stars. The player and his representatives could easily turn public opinion against the Cowboys’ front office and come out with a record-setting contract for a running back.
The safe bet for everyone is that Elliott will get a new deal well before he enters the last season of his rookie contract. That doesn’t mean said new deal is imminent, but it’s something Jones and company will be working on all season long. Paying running backs isn’t en vogue in the modern NFL, but Elliott is a superstar. The Cowboys can’t afford to play hardball with such an important and popular player. Don’t be surprised if Elliott speeds up the team’s timeline for negotiations at some point this season.