Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott announced that he would be withholding from all team activities until he received a contract extension. This was first made clear with his absence from the team’s mandatory training camp which started on July 27. Now, nearly one month later, the team has still not reached a deal with Elliott and the regular season is just two weeks away.
Throughout the entirety of this holdout, many (including myself) believed that Elliott and the Cowboys would come to an agreement well before the start of the regular season. While there was reportedly a deal offered by the team Thursday, with just two weeks remaining before that deadline, I want to take a dive into what a potential stalemate would mean for each side, as well as some other key pieces of the Cowboys core going forward.
First of all, the Cowboys without Ezekiel Elliott are a far worse team than they are with him. His production speaks for itself, rushing champion two out of his first three seasons, racking up 4,048 yards and 28 TDs on an incredible 868 carries. Elliott has proven himself the undeniable workhorse of the Dallas offense, and his impact is felt far beyond the rushing game. Not only does he open up the passing game for Dak Prescott, who has struggled with consistency to this point in his career, but he has evolved into one of the best receiving backs in the NFL. Last season, Elliott brought in a team-leading 77 passes, up from his previous high of 32, making him a real weapon for defenses to look out for on every offensive snap.
The team would struggle offensively and despite one of the premier offensive lines in football, Alfred Morris, or anyone else for that matter, could not fill the void left in the heart of Dallas’ offense. More specifically, this could really damage Prescott’s bank account. With Prescott demanding $40 million in the latest negotiations with the team, he will likely remain without a contract extension heading into the final year of his rookie deal. This means that this will be a “prove it” season for Prescott with loads of money on the table for him to “prove” he deserves. In the six games that Elliott was suspended during the 2017 season, Prescott averaged a measly 191 yards per game with a five-to-seven touchdown to interception ratio. Without Elliott, Prescott struggles immensely in running the Dallas offense, and this could cost him a lot of money if this holdout continues into the season.
As far as Elliott goes, I don’t think that this will hurt him at all. Many people are pointing to the Le’Veon Bell situation that took place with the Steelers last season in which he missed out on nearly $35 million, but I don’t see that history repeating for Zeke. Younger, arguably more talented both as a rusher and a receiver, and in a system that needs him more, Elliott holds all the leverage in the world.
If Dallas struggles then they will likely decide that a deal must get done, no matter the cost. If Jerry and Stephen Jones decide that they want to spite Elliott and keep him without a deal, he will receive immense interest from other suitors, and may even be able to make more than he could have in Dallas.
With all this being said, nobody (especially Prescott) wants to see Elliott hold out into the regular season, but the impact on Dallas’ offense could be far greater than you had imagined. Hopefully, both sides will be able to reach a deal before things become ugly, and we can watch one of the best in the game light up defenses in Dallas for years to come.