With less than two weeks remaining until the start of the regular season, Elliott is still a holdout, and the Cowboys are in danger of being without him for their Week 1 game against the New York Giants.
According to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, Jones is focused on ensuring Elliott is in the fold when the games matter most: "We've got a marathon here. We want Zeke when we get to the playoffs. We want Zeke when we're in the dog days of the season."
Elliott has two years remaining on his contract, but he is presumably seeking a new deal that would make him the NFL's highest-paid running back. ESPN's Ed Werder reported last week that Dallas offered Elliott a contract that would have made him the league's second-highest-paid back behind Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams.
It is sensible for Jones to want Elliott in the fold for the stretch run, but if his holdout lasts much longer, it is possible the Cowboys won't be in position to vie for a playoff spot.
During his three NFL seasons, Elliott has led Dallas to the playoffs twice. He appeared in 15 regular-season games in both 2016 and 2018, led the league in rushing both years and helped the Cowboys win a pair of NFC East titles.
In 2017, a suspension limited Elliott to 10 games. The Cowboys went 9-7 that year and missed the playoffs.
Elliott is a massive part of Dallas' offensive success, and there isn't another running back on the roster capable of dominating the way he does. If Elliott does miss regular-season time, it is unclear who head coach Jason Garrett would lean on.
During the preseason, rookie fourth-round pick Tony Pollard has been the team's most impressive running back. Other options include 2016 sixth-round pick Darius Jackson, rookie seventh-round pick Mike Weber and 30-year-old veteran Alfred Morris.
Morris is a two-time Pro Bowler who filled in for Elliott in 2017 and rushed for 547 yards in 14 games.
Much of the burden would likely fall on quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game if Elliott does not return in time for Week 1 on Sept. 8, and Dallas has yet to show it can be a top team with Prescott as the primary focus of the offense.
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