Ezekiel Elliott Contract Rumors: Cowboys Offer 2nd Most Valuable RB Deal in NFL

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2019

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) walks the field during an organized team activity at its NFL football training facility in Frisco, Texas, Wednesday, May 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

The Dallas Cowboys reportedly offered holdout Ezekiel Elliott a contract that would make him the second-highest paid running back in the NFL.

ESPN's Ed Werder reported Thursday the proposal would land Elliott between the Los Angeles Rams' Todd Gurley ($14.4 million average, per Spotrac) and the New York Jets' Le'Veon Bell ($13.1 million).

The NFL's two-time rushing champion has been away from the Cowboys throughout training camp and the preseason while seeking a new contract.

Elliott is scheduled to earn just a $3.9 million base salary for the 2019 season, per Spotrac. Dallas already exercised the fifth-year option in his rookie deal, which would pay him $9.1 million in 2020.

The 24-year-old Ohio State product has handled 1,003 touches in three years, including a league-leading 381 in 2018, since the Cowboys selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.

"I haven't worn down yet," Elliott told reporters in May when asked about whether the workload is a concern.

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Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said during a July appearance on KTCK Radio (via Jori Epstein of USA Today) the franchise doesn't plan to go above and beyond with its contract offers to Elliott, quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper.

"We've got three really good football players that we're dealing with here and that have very good representation," Jones said. "And they want to see the market. We can't push the issue unless we want to be a market-setter. And we're damn sure not going to be a market-setter."

Although Prescott and Cooper have remained active leading up to the 2019 season, Elliott has decided to stay away from the franchise as part of what's become an intense staredown.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones jokingly responded "Zeke who?" when asked about the situation Sunday:

"I didn't think it was funny and neither did Zeke—we actually thought it was disrespectful," Elliott's agent, Rocky Arceneaux, told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

It's unclear whether Dallas' most recent offer will make any progress toward easing tensions, and ultimately a potential agreement, with just over two weeks until the team kicks off the regular season.