Cowboys owner Jerry Jones repeatedly has said that he would pay a huge amount of money to guarantee a Super Bowl. He will eventually end up paying huge amounts of money with no guarantee that he’ll ever win anything.
Between the promised contract extension for quarterback Dak Prescott, the second contract to be given to receiver Amari Cooper, and the looming second franchise tag for defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, the Cowboys will encounter major financial obligations in the not-too-distant future. Lawrence will make $20.5 million in 2019, if tagged again. And if a long-term deal will be negotiated for Lawrence, $20.5 million for 2019 and an even higher number for 2020 fully guaranteed at signing will be the starting point.
Then there’s running back Ezekiel Elliott. Like Prescott, Elliott is eligible for a second contract after the completion of the 2018 regular season. Unlike Prescott, neither Jerry nor Stephen Jones have said much if anything about Elliott getting a new deal.
Given that Elliott was a first-round pick (and Prescott wasn’t), the Cowboys will face a more urgent situation with their quarterback, who will be eligible for free agency after 2019. Elliott has two years before the Cowboys would face a franchise-tag dilemma.
As PFT’s Charean Williams suggested during Thursday’s PFT Live, it’s possible that the Cowboys won’t ever make a major financial commitment to Elliott, given that running backs tend to burn more brightly for a much shorter time. The Cowboys, after all, let DeMarco Murray leave as a free agent after setting a single-season franchise record with 1,845 yards in 2014.
Maybe the Cowboys will squat on Elliott for the full five years of his rookie deal and then tag him once or twice before letting him leave, reloading at the position with another cheap first-rounder. However it plays out, the Cowboys soon will be spending plenty of money to keep key players around, which could make it harder to have the kind of depth that every team needs.