Zeke will rejoin Cowboys today after agreeing to new deal
Written by: Greg Lehr
The lengthy standoff between Ezekiel Elliott and Jerry Jones, which has lasted since the beginning of training camp, is officially coming to an end. The two parties have reportedly reached an agreement in time for the star running back to rejoin the team at practice today as they prepare to host the New York Giants on Sunday to kickoff the regular season.
Elliott, already a two-time NFL rushing champion, is set to sign a six-year, $90 million extension that has a total value of $103 million over the next eight years ($50M guaranteed), per Ian Rapoport and Jane Slater (@RapSheet, @SlaterNFL). This not only launches Zeke to the top of the market, eclipsing Todd Gurley’s contract but also makes him the highest-paid running back in NFL history. There is no doubt Elliott and his agent, Rocky Arceneaux, took notice of not only Gurley's contract from a year ago but also the timing of it, as the Rams signed him to an extension two years before his previous deal was set to expire. With this deal, Zeke hits the $15M average per year he was looking for, though over the life of the entire deal that figure drops closer to $13M per year.
Despite various off-field headlines, including a six-game suspension in 2017 that have cast a bit of a shadow on Elliott's short career so far, his on-field value may never be higher. At just 24 years old, Elliott has less than 900 career carries, has never missed a game due to injury, and already has one All-Pro and two Pro Bowls to his name, respectively. Elliott’s representation certainly knew these factors better than anybody, recognizing now as the perfect window of opportunity to demand a new deal.
They were well aware of other noteworthy teammates due for extensions, including Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and Byron Jones, each of whom could be looking at top-five market deals within the next year. This also comes after Jaylon Smith’s extension from just a couple weeks ago, not to mention the $100-million contract DeMarcus Lawrence inked back in the spring. Jerry and Stephen Jones made it very clear when Smith’s extension was announced that there is only so much ‘pie’ to go around, and with every new contract signed, there’s a little less pie for everybody else (translation: get yours now, and be willing to work with the team so there’s enough pie for others).
Another surprisingly deal the Cowboys quietly got done this week was locking up right tackle La’el Collins to a five-year extension. This means that, with Zeke’s extension now complete, he’ll officially be running behind the likes of Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and La’el Collins through at least 2023-2024. Connor Williams will presumably hold down the left guard spot through 2022 barring any changes.
What does all this mean for a Dallas team looking to commit to Dak as its franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future? It means that when Dak signs his new deal, he’ll possess the stability of the highest-paid offensive line and running back for most (if not all) of his next contract. Jerry and Stephen Jones are giving Prescott all the support a quarterback can reasonably ask for as he enters the prime of his career, and it’s never been more clear that the Cowboys have the pressure of a championship window while these parameters are in place. However, as we all know, things can change very quickly in the NFL. For now, the one thing we know for sure is Ezekiel Elliott will be on the field this Sunday.