Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, NFL's Biggest RB Contracts After Cowboys RB's Deal

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2019

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) participates in drills at the team's NFL football training facility in Frisco, Texas, Wednesday, June 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott got his wish, as he is the highest-paid player at his position in the NFL.

The team announced the extension Wednesday.

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According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Elliott signed a six-year contract extension worth $90 million with half of it guaranteed. Combined with his existing two years, Elliott's deal will pay him $103 million over eight years.

The six-year extension will pay Elliott $15 million annually, which puts him ahead of the $14.375 million Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley II makes per year. Here is a look at the highest-paid running backs in the NFL in terms of yearly salary, courtesy of Spotrac:

  1. Ezekiel Elliot (DAL) - $15 million
  2. Todd Gurley (LAR) - $14.375 million
  3. Le'Veon Bell (NYJ) - $13.125 million
  4. David Johnson (ARI) - $13 million
  5. Devonta Freeman (ATL) - $8.25 million
  6. Saquon Barkley (NYG) - $7.798 million
  7. Jerick McKinnon (SF) - $7.5 million
  8. Leonard Fournette (JAC) - $6.787 million
  9. Lamar Miller (HOU) - $6.5 million
  10. Duke Johnson (HOU) - $5.203 million

There is an obvious separation between the elite running backs and the rest of the field, as Elliott, Gurley, Bell and Johnson all check in at $13 million or more before it drops to $8.25 million with Freeman in fifth.

The list also includes top young backs who are playing on their rookie deals such as Barkley and Fournette. Some of the more surprising names are McKinnon, who is set to miss his second consecutive season with a knee injury and has yet to appear in a game for the San Francisco 49ers, and the Texans' duo of Miller and Duke Johnson.

Like McKinnon, Miller is set to miss all of 2019 with a knee injury.

It is difficult to argue with the notion that Elliott deserved to ascend to the top of the list given his production since he entered the NFL.

Elliott led the NFL in rushing as a rookie in 2016 and did it again last season. Although he finished with just 983 rushing yards in 2017, he missed six games due to suspension and may have led the league in rushing that year as well had he not been forced to sit out.

In addition to his dominance on the ground, Elliott added another dimension to his game last season by setting career highs with 77 receptions for 567 yards and three receiving touchdowns. He also totaled 2,0001 yards from scrimmage, which was a personal best.

During Elliott's two full seasons, the Cowboys have won a pair of NFC East titles, as well as one playoff game. They went 9-7 and missed the playoffs when he sat out six games in 2017.

At just 24 years old, Elliott should have several peak seasons remaining even though he has eclipsed 300 carries twice in his career.

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Elliott should continue to occupy his throne for two or three more years as the NFL's highest-paid running back, but given the rising salary cap and the total package that Barkley brings to the table, the New York Giants running back seems likely to eclipse him at some point.        


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