With all the talk of all the Cowboys players who soon will be getting new deals, the one guy who gets mentioned the least is running back Ezekiel Elliott. Given the wear and tear inherent to position that he plays, it’s hard not to wonder whether the Cowboys would like to chew up all five years of his rookie contract and possibly tag him once before moving on.
That’s what they did with DeMarco Murray four years ago, letting him walk despite setting a franchise single-season record with 1,845 rushing yards. They had only four years with Murray; Elliott, as a first-round pick, has five years under contract before becoming eligible for free agency or the franchise tag.
What if the Cowboys string it out? The reported arthritic condition in the knee of Rams running back Todd Gurley could prompt teams to think twice about giving huge second contracts with major guarantees to tailbacks, especially when (in the Cowboys’ case) they can easily squat on Elliott for three more years before letting someone else overpay him.
Which brings me back (eventually) to the point of all this. With three years in, Elliott is eligible for a new contract. Should he draw a line in the sand, the same way Emmitt did after his third NFL season, some 26 years ago?
Stay away. Incur the fines. Hold out. Wait to get paid. Given the clear and obvious urgency with which owner Jerry Jones is pursuing one more Super Bowl win, taking a hard line could be the quickest way for Elliott to get paid.
And he should do whatever he has to do to get paid. He plays the most demanding and risky position in the game, and he deserves much more than the $3.85 million he’s due to earn this year. If doing what he has to do includes doing nothing, he should strongly consider that option.