Ezekiel Elliott could become the second-highest paid running back in the NFL.
On Thursday, ESPN reported the Cowboys offered Elliott a contract worth more than Le’Veon Bell’s four-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets but less than Todd Gurley’s four-year, $57.5 million deal with the Rams.
Elliott, who is due to make a base salary of $3.85 million this season, and the Cowboys have been negotiating a contract extension for some time, with the two-time rushing champion sitting out of training camp and notifying the team last week that he wouldn’t play this season without a new contract. He was recently seen golfing in Mexico.
During the 2019 NFL combine, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said that negotiations with Elliott would likely start around Gurley’s deal, but Bell’s contract with the Jets supposedly shifted the market.
In recent weeks, Stephen and owner Jerry Jones have ratcheted up the hyperbole around the negotiations. Jerry said, “Zeke, who?” after rookie running back Troy Pollard had a standout preseason game, angering Elliott and Elliott’s agent, Rocky Arceneaux.
Elliott’s holdout comes as Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper each have one year left on their deals and are negotiating contract extensions as well. Linebacker Jaylon Smith signed a five-year, $64 million extension this week.
Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk is helping Elliott train in Mexico, and added some fuel to the growing discord between Elliott and America’s Team.
“This kid has basically carried this team the past three years,” Faulk said of Elliott on the “Rich Eisen Show.”
“I’ll be honest with you: If I’m Zeke and I was sitting down and I saw that they signed Jaylon Smith, I’m pissed. I’m just saying, I’m pissed.”
Faulk also suggested Prescott would become a “bum” after the quarterback gets his extension.
It is unclear if the Cowboys are enforcing fines on Elliott — which can go up to $40,000 per day — for missing training camp. Should his holdout continue into the regular season, Elliott could potentially owe the Cowboys as much as $226,000 per week. In April, the Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option on Elliott’s contract, meaning he will get $9.1 million next year if he doesn’t receive a new contract.
Since entering the league as the No. 4 overall pick in 2016, Elliott has led the NFL in rushing with 4,048 yards. He posted 1,434 rushing yards and six scores last season, as well as 567 yards and three touchdowns receiving.
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