Ezekiel Elliott can’t get a new contract for two more seasons, but the Cowboys running back certainly paid attention to the four-year, $60 million contract extension Todd Gurley signed with the Rams earlier this week. Gurley’s deal includes $45 million guaranteed.
“I think it’s great for running back position which has been devalued in the past couple of years,” Elliott said. “You have seen a trend of running backs being picked high, and after they have been picked high, their team has gotten better. So I think the league is finally noticing the value of the running back.”
The Cowboys will have to pay quarterback Dak Prescott after this season. Elliott’s turn comes later.
The Cowboys will pick up Elliott’s fifth-year option for 2021 — barring the unexpected — giving them more time to negotiate a new deal with him.
Although they couldn’t come to terms with DeMarco Murray on a long-term deal after four seasons, they have more invested in Elliott . . . and believe he’s a better running back. But executive vice president Stephen Jones knows what Gurley’s deal means for his team and for Elliott: The Cowboys will have to pay, and Elliott will get paid.
“Well, obviously that changed it,” Jones said. “That certainly moved the market in terms of running backs. Certainly you’ve got great running backs out there right now that have been wanting to move that market. For awhile there, with the running backs [the thought] you could pick them later in the draft, that you didn’t necessarily need to allocate big sums of money when you’re trying to work through how you divide up and how you allocate your salary cap. But you know obviously when we picked Zeke that was the first time in a while a running back had been picked that high. I would probably submit to you that Gurley might would have been picked that high had he not been coming off a significant injury. You throw in Saquon [Barkley] and some of these guys, and I think when we see these types of backs that have these type of skills that make a difference for these teams then certainly I think everybody is understanding their value. It certainly will affect Zeke. I’m sure Zeke smiled big when he saw it.
“I wouldn’t take anybody for Zeke. I just think we’ve got the best one in the league, and I think he’s put his off the field issues behind him, and I expect him to do very special things and just as I said with Dak, I hope we’re looking at big numbers on both of them, because that’ll mean they’ve had great years, and I would submit to you that if both of them go out and have great years, the Dallas Cowboys are going to have a great year, too.”
Elliott led the league in rushing as a rookie before serving a six-game suspension last season that took him out of the rushing race. The Cowboys went 3-3 without him.