NFL training camp is approaching, and there’s talk in and around the Dallas Cowboys camp. No surprises there. Generating conversation and controversy is what the Cowboys do. That’s because they always have a lot of high-profile players and an owner that arguably runs the league.
Besides, we haven’t heard much from America’s Team all summer.
This week’s episode surrounds Ezekiel Elliott, who reportedly is considering holding out of training camp unless he gets a new contract. This may just be rumor, since the report cites a “source.” But again, this is what the Cowboys do to gin up interest.
But let’s say the story is up front, and Elliott follows through with the threat. In that case, what is he thinking?
Well, Elliott has proven his worth as a running back for the Cowpokes. He’s run up 5,247 total yards and 34 touchdowns in three seasons with a team that has the talent to share the wealth.
He has become a constant on a sometimes fleeting team, and he knows it. It is almost as if he thinks he has been taken for granted.
Secondly, Elliott knows that he is a running back, and running backs don’t last long. They take too much punishment to hope for a career span of much more than five years. Though he has been relatively healthy, he would still like to get a new contract down before his five-year rookie deal runs out.
Plus, he is due $3.85 million this season, and he sees Todd Gurley’s four-year $57.5 million extension, Melvin Gordon holding out of Chargers camp, and other deals.
That’s all not to mention all that has gone on in NBA free agency this summer. Even though Elliott’s salary will jump to $9.09 million in 2020, he feels he’s worth more.
There’s also talk of the Oakland Raiders being interested in Elliott. That could move the needle in his favor.
The Cowboys’ Thinking
The Cowboys know that these holdouts don’t really help players or hurt management.
Owner Jerry Jones has been willing to hold out, letting DeMarco Murray go off to free agency after he led the league in rushing five years ago.
They also know that Zeke’s leverage also comes with a track record. Even though he’s been relatively injury free, Elliott has had enough problems off the field to make bargaining difficult.
Since this confrontation with a Las Vegas security guard has raised its ugly head again (the guy decided to press charges after all), that can be used against Elliott in any bargaining.
Per NFL rules, a team can fine a player up to $40,000 for each day of camp missed. If Elliott were to miss the entire camp, it could cost him $1.5 million, so he’s got to calculate the worth of sitting out.
What Will Come of It?
This is just the first act of the show that goes on yearly with the Dallas Cowboys. Unless one of the parties initiates a Tweetstorm or a war of words in the media, I don’t expect much to happen.
Something else will probably come up to grab headlines, and Elliott will be back at work, maybe a little late, but back nonetheless.
The show will go on, and tickets to Cowboys games will be as hard to get as ever.