Ezekiel Elliott Rumors: Cowboys, RB Closing in on 6-Year, $90M Contract

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 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 and running back Ezekiel Elliott are reportedly closing in on a massive new contract ahead of their Week 1 game against the New York Giants on Sunday.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported there is "chatter" that the two sides have agreed on a six-year, $90 million contract. Florio cited a source that said a contract is not done but is "close."

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport echoed that sentiment: 

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

From NFL Now: The #Cowboys and RB Zeke Elliott are in the final stages of a contract extension that would make him the highest-paid RB in the NFL... if it gets done. Still plenty of issues to hash out. https://t.co/Px51NXBZeN

Earlier, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sport reported Monday was a "positive day" of conversations, although there were sticking points for Dallas. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network later reported Elliott is returning to the Dallas area in case the two sides are able to reach a deal.

If the Cowboys are to give Elliott a deal that will match or exceed the contract Todd Gurley II signed with the Los Angeles Rams to become the NFL's highest-paid running back, Dallas will have to use "creative measures" or front-load the deal, the latter of which the team doesn't want to do, per Robinson.

Elliott held out during training camp and the preseason, and trained in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, while awaiting a new deal.

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

From @NFLTotalAccess: The #Cowboys and RB Zeke Elliott want him on the field Wednesday, ready to practice with his team. But a long-term extension isn't done and obstacles remain. Tuesday is a big day. https://t.co/31QGzMJ8JH

The two-time Pro Bowler has two years left on his contract, which is scheduled to pay him $3.85 million this season and $9.099 million in 2020, according to Spotrac.

Even though Dallas' season opener is just days away, owner Jerry Jones hasn't projected a sense of urgency when addressing the media as of late. During an interview with 105.3 The Fan (h/t Bryan DeArdo of CBSSports.com) last week, Jones said he was most worried about having Elliott back for the latter part of the season: "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 this season. ... A fresh Zeke, if we got to the end, would be great."

If Elliott misses a significant portion of the season, however, there may not be a playoff race waiting for him when he returns.

When the running back missed six games in 2017 because of a suspension, the Cowboys went just 9-7 and missed the playoffs. Zeke appeared in 15 regular-season games in his other two NFL campaigns, and Dallas won the NFC East in each of those seasons.

Elliott is a massive part of Dallas' offense. In addition to leading the NFL in rushing last season with 1,434 yards, Zeke set a career high with 2,001 yards from scrimmage.

His 77 receptions for 567 yards and three touchdowns were all career highs as well, and that production underscored his importance to the success of quarterback Dak Prescott in myriad areas.

If Elliott does not sign in time to play against the Giants in Week 1, the Cowboys will give rookie fourth-round pick Tony Pollard and veteran Alfred Morris the bulk of the work.

Pollard showed flashes of brilliance during the preseason, rushing for 84 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries, but he has yet to prove he can be a workhorse, which is something that has never been in question during Elliott's NFL career.

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