Cowboys Rumors: Ezekiel Elliott Discussing Contract to Become Highest-Paid RB

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2019

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 27: Runningback Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys from the NFC Team on the sidelines during the NFL Pro Bowl Game at Camping World Stadium on January 27, 2019 in Orlando, Florida. The AFC defeated the NFC 26 to 7. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys plan to give contract extensions to Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott first.

But when they turn their attention toward Ezekiel Elliott, they reportedly plan to make him perhaps the highest-paid running back in NFL history. 

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported Tuesday that the Cowboys and Elliott have already discussed an extension, and both sides believe a deal will eventually be reached:

Elliott, 23, told reporters last week that he has "no concerns" about his contractual status. He has a base salary of $3.9 million for the 2019 season.

The Cowboys exercised their fifth-year option for Elliott last month, which will pay him the average of the NFL's 10 highest-paid running backs in 2020.

Earlier this month, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told Pro Football Talk that the extensions are a work in progress:

"I think those [contract extensions] are all a work in progress. Certainly we've got a couple years there with Zeke to get that done. We certainly want to get him done. He's the straw, if you will, that stirs our drink. He's a key part of what we're about. Those things take time to get done. They don't happen overnight. Certainly he's a priority in terms of ultimately getting him signed, but there hasn't really been a timetable put on this."

Prescott and Cooper are each heading into the final year of their contracts. Because the Cowboys cannot franchise-tag both players next year, at least one of those extensions will likely get done at some point this offseason. Last month, the Cowboys gave defensive end Demarcus Lawrence a five-year, $105 million extension.

Elliott has been the NFL's best running back since the Cowboys selected him fourth overall in 2016. Jim Brown (104.3) is the only player in NFL history with more rushing yards per game than Elliott (101.2). Zeke is also one of 13 players ever to tally 4,000 rushing yards through his first three seasons. 

"We've got it budgeted that we're going to pay Zeke a significant contract at some point," Jones told reporters at the combine. "He's right at the top of the best in the business, if not the best. And we certainly saw what [Todd] Gurley got paid, and we know that's probably where it starts, and we'll go from there."

If the Cowboys extend Elliott now and get the guarantees out of the way, they could placate him and perhaps escape from the deal as he's exiting his prime. The Rams received some criticism for signing Gurley to a massive long-term contract, but they can get out from that deal after his age-27 season. 

If the Cowboys do give Elliott an extension, they could also structure the deal to give themselves an out once the aging curve kicks in. 

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