Should Ezekiel Elliott hold out for a new deal?

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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.

81 responses to “Should Ezekiel Elliott hold out for a new deal?

  1. not a chance in hell I pay him now…at least another year…then MAYBE the fifth yr option…obtw…letting Murray walk was the right decision…as was cutting Dez…

  2. If I was Zeke, I definitely hold out for every last penny this offseason. If you don’t, there is no guarantee you will be in the same bargaining position next year or ever gain.

  3. Emmitt didn’t have a contract. Wasn’t a hold out. But facts apparently do not matter on this site. But they want to hold others accountable.

  4. Hold out? New deal? He’s not stupid enough to do that. He’s under contract. These overpaid cry babies have to learn if they signed a contract , honor it!!!

  5. Billionaires and millionaires fighting over money. I honestly prefer to just read about the games and players without all the financial speculation, and I’m one hundred percent for capitalism.

  6. Because that worked out so well for Le’Veon? Which,by the way, is a better comparison than DeMarco Murray. Dallas offered Murray what they felt he had earned due to his limited production and availability his first three seasons. He had a tremendous 4th season, breaking all-time great Emmitt Smith’s team record for most yards gained in a season. Outside of that, Zeke had more tds and yards in first season than Murray combined in his first 3 seasons with the team. Not sure what type of contract (if any) Zeke will be offered from the Cowboys, but I find it difficult to follow the logic that the Cowboys wouldn’t sign Zeke long term. More than likely, a 4th overall selection that has been as dominant as Zeke, gets atleast a second contract if not an opportunity to sign a large contract eleswhere(much like Murray).

  7. I’m usually the first guy to say a player should be grateful and honor their contract. However, Zeke is the exception. Everybody knows the Cowboys go as Zeke goes. Stop the run, you stop the Cowboys. All it takes is 1 play and Zeke and the Cowboys won’t be the same. If I was Zeke’s agent or dad I would highly advise he hold out. Let the Dak Prescott show stumble to a 2-5 start and see how fast Jerry writes a check.

  8. RB are so underpaid and the opportunity for them is so slight to get paid later on, once you’ve made a few mill there’s no reason to not hold out if you’re that good. Come in mid-season, keep the wear and tear off, and hope to strike it at least decent when you can actually get paid.

  9. Gurley is not a good comparison for Elliott, a closer comparison would be Le’veon Bell. Remember, Gurley injured his knee when he was in college and there was a lot of concern drafting him coming out of Georgia because of that knee injury. Elliott has remained mostly healthy. He missed the 6 games the suspension. His style of running is similar to Bell. Even though, he didn’t get the contract he may have wanted, Bell could still be e of the top rb’s next season.

  10. I totally agree with the article, I believe the next negotiations should have the 1st round picks at 4 year contracts without the 5th year option. It seems to screw over many of the star players because with the franchise tag they can be anywhere from 27-29 by the time they get their big payday which isn’t fair to them

  11. I hate to agree with Florio, but Zeke should hold out. He has all the leverage this offseason, not next. Zeke turns 24 in July. The thing that worked against Bell wasn’t necessarily just miles on his legs but his current age (27). If Zeke holds out now he puts himself in line for a similar deal as Gurley. Regardless of whether you think Gurley is overpaid (because of injury), Gurley was worth the money at the time he signed the deal. Zeke is healthy, and if you’re ever going to pay him, better to pay him now when he’s still young and has production ahead of him.

  12. Oh no. Here we go again with starting player drama. Whatever happened to a agreeing to a contract and sticking to it? Once a contract is signed, play or don’t get paid. If you don’t like the initial contract, don’t sign it. Yes, sometimes a player gets screwed. Sometimes a team has to pay more for exceptional players. But this created drama has gotten old.

  13. Ezekiel Elliott should ABSOLUTELY get the best 💲💲 deal….even if it means holding out.

  14. Absolutely!!!!! Running backs get the worst deal. I’m the next cba they should have less years on their rookie contract. They take a beating and this whole run them into the ground thing is inhumane.

  15. Usually I agree with honoring a contract, but,Elliott is the Cowboys offense.He deserves atleast double what he is to receive this year.Atleast they should incorporate incentives into his contract to,allow his performance to dictate his salary. Double E deserves double pay , cmon Jerry get off your wallet !

  16. Zeke should sit out the whole season. #eyeroll

    Seriously though, that holdout by Emmitt Smith was possibly the best holdout ever by an NFL player. That team looked lost without him, started 0-2, and Jerry basically begged him to come back. Then Emmitt went out there and proved he was worth every penny. The overtime win at NYG that year with the division title on the line was a signature moment in his career.

    It’s hard to imagine any RB holding out today, winning the holdout, and then earning their paycheck after winning the holdout. The NFL is different now.

  17. And how did Murray do after leaving Dallas? Dropped in every single statistical category.

    The same way Bell was easily replaced by James Conner in Pittsburgh. It’s the o-line that opens up the running game. There’s a reason why only the RB position has been devalued so much over the last 20 years. They’re not worth it.

    So go ahead and advise Elliott to sit out. Dallas will just find and plug in another RB without missing a step. The only person you’ll be hurting is Elliott with lost pay checks. Nice going. It’s easy when it’s not your money on the line.

  18. The smart move would be him and dak to coordinate their holdout for maximum pressure. Alas, players seem to play checkers. Either way, absent holdout, the Cowboys have no reason not toDemarco Murray him. Too easy not.

  19. .
    he def should and waste another season with his antics. lol

    maybe they should get Romo back too, lol… Mark Sanchez has won more playoff games than Romo

  20. If people can’t understand why Leveon Bell held out why on earth would they understand why Zeke should hold out?! They need to have a special section in the upcoming CBA about RBs and teams over-using them before they can get to their second contact.

  21. So tired of this…players should get insane fines for not honoring a contract they signed. Let’s not forget these guys get paid insane amounts of money to play a game. How would they react if the team decided to up and not pay them if they felt the player was making too much money? You signed it you honor it plain and simple. I would like to see shorter, more inventive based contracts, make them earn their money.

  22. This is business. If he holds out, Dallas should try to trade him. Get a 1st and 4th for him from a sucker team. The risk is just too high for a RB to get the big contract. Dallas played it smart with DeMarco and will continue to play it smart with Zeke. Sucks to say but business is business. The RB value trend will go back down. A mediocre RB will run great behind a good line. Even McFadden finished top 3 with our line.

  23. Again its incredible that we can talk abt that type of money per year as being under paid. But thats what its become. If a QB like Russell Wilson can entertain and expect to gwt paid as the top QB in the game at a ridiculous $34 MILLION PER YEAR for a position that is sissyfied ( i know a franchise qb is very helpful in winning however not always necessary) eg: T. Dilfer, Foles. But considering that QB money and special treatment then YES ZEKE should make a stand and demand more money. RBs get punished. Esp the ZEKE types. And especially because they will run him until the wheels fall off and discard him like a bald tire. The Nfl needs to come up with some contract guidlines. And reward those who win. Someway somehow. Its ruining the game the way QBs get paid

  24. Cowboys are in a very tough position. With so many star players needing new contracts this year i cant see how they keep hold of them all. Amari Coopers agent is a complete idiot so he’ll want some crazy huge deal. Then you have Prescott who should be paid (but not as a top 5 QB) but again in todays NFL the agent will want the biggest deal ever

    I cant believe the money these players want, its all about the go. Have to be paid the most and wont take ‘5 mill’ less and make 20 mill than 25. Ridiculous the money involved

  25. 3.8 mil is chump change compared to the risk that he is taking by playing out his current contract. Zeke, say to Jerry “show me the money or I will call Antonio”

  26. Should EVERY player do this, including those that are UNDERperforming to their contracts? Those players can take pay cuts to fund the overachievers !!

  27. Staking his $3.85 million against getting a bigger contract makes more sense than what Le’veon Bell did. It’s a heck of a lot harder to recoup $14.5 million.

  28. Not the same as Emmitt. He was a restricted free agent. Emmitt signed a 4 year rookie deal that converted to three years and that 4th year coincided with the new CBA so all those guys were restricted free agents. They were negotiating a contract with a free agent not a player current under contract.

  29. Considering with one franchise tag Dallas can control him 3 more years. If he holds out he gets fined and potentially loses up to 3 years pay if he continues. Probably not s wise to hold our as Dallas holds all the leverage.

  30. Lifelong Cowboys fan here – HELL no! What should happen is Jerry should remove his head from his ass and restructure Zeke’s deal NOW, before there’s even a hint of not doing the right thing. I get that there are challenges, but figure it out. Get rid of some contracts or do a sliding scale to dramatically increase in year two or SOMETHING! The fact that we’re having this conversation shows Jerry doesn’t grasp the big picture after all these years. *sigh*

  31. I dont think Dallas drafted him 4th overall not to pay him. It would be a wasted high draft pick IMO to have him as a cornerstone for only 5 years!

  32. He signed a contract a decent first round deal, Jerry could have
    void all his guaranteed money over being suspended. Jerry din’t play
    hard ball with him, in fact he supported him all the way through
    his troubles. Where would his loyalty be by not even honoring his
    4 year deal.

  33. .
    he def should and waste another season with his antics. lol

    maybe they should get Romo back too, lol… Mark Sanchez has won more playoff games than Romo.

  34. Do what you have to do to get the money now Zeke. 3 more years of his workload and he will be used up. Look what Dallas did with Murray. Once they have used you up they will discard you like yesterday’s garbage and won’t give you a dime. Get it now Zeke!

  35. It depends I need to look at our teams schedule if it works out for me Yes he should hold out. If not I could care less. You see as odd as it might sounds I like watching football because it is a sport. I don’t watch it for it labor or social issues like some apparently do.

  36. Sure, every player should hold out until they all get paid 10,000,000 per year. And a few 30,000,000 and one or two to get 40,000,000. Since there is a hard cap, games will be played with a few players. Maybe 7 on 7. Or a few stars and players of talent like the Canadian league, or either of the two leagues to be played in USA.
    Elliott has benefited from a superior offensive line. He struggled without an elite wide receiver, he benefited from a defense that put him back on the field. He benefited from good quarterback play. And he has a backup that can gain yardage.
    He also ybenefit of playing in Texas has no state income tax. And his endorsement money is benefited because he is a Dallas Cowboy.
    His illustrious career might not have been so illustrious on a lesser team. And when he signed that contract, it made him rich beyond other opportunities whether he succeeded or failed.
    Plus Dallas was patient with his off field problems and footed expense in defending him.
    Spending freely has priced the nfl out of the family outing. Fans, are becoming disgruntled. Think I am insincere, start listening in offices, restaurants, parents watching youth sports. Better get a grip. And get a grip sooner rather than later. Your fan base drives attendance, concessions, merchandise, parking, advertising, endorsements, and television. The warning signs are everywhere. Enough is close to enough.

  37. Get paid, Zeke. Running backs arent’ QBs; they get one shot a big payday.

    One thing Le’Veon Bell had exactly right: his concern about workload. Nothing keeps teams from giving elite backs on rookie deals 400 touches a year then discarding them when their tread wears thin. I think Elliott has already proven he’s worth the money now.

  38. He’s already overrated (and set to be overpaid) thanks to the big help he’s gotten in his career thus far from the team’s OL. Dallas is planning on paying him handsomely; he doesn’t need to squeeze even more undeserved pennies from the team. And the team has shown it draws a line with everyone. Both sides should simply agree to a fair extension and leave it at that, no animosity, no holdouts, period.

    Also, PFT and it’s grossly pro-player attitude (in a zero sum game salary cap world in which overpaying players makes teams WORSE, not just costs teams money) can shove off. RBs get the treatment they get financially because IF TEAMS PAID THEM EVEN MORE THEN THE MONEY WOULD GO EVEN MORE TO WASTE. Why is PFT advocating that players at high attrition positions hold out, in order to squeeze more money so that in the end teams will end up with more dead cap space? How does that makes sense? And unlike with Bell, Elliot has already been paid BIG bucks thanks to being a 4th overall pick.

  39. If I am the owner I am drawing the line in the sand and say you either play for this contract or you do not play. Everyday you hold out, you will be fined. Every preseason game you miss you will be fined. Difference between Bell and Elliott is Bell was a free agent. Elliott is under contract and oh yeah…Elliott has been suspended. For the poster who said the man DESERVES to get paid. He has been paid. And why does he deserve to be paid? What championships has he brought his team?

  40. psj3809 says:
    March 19, 2019 at 4:27 am

    Amari Coopers agent is a complete idiot so he’ll want some crazy huge deal.

    How does that make him an idiot? Is that not his job?

  41. I’m with the poster who said enough of the financials. I may be mostly alone but I just do not care. If you hold out, in my book, then go find something else to do rather than play in the NFL.

    Yes, I think people (anyone, any profession) should maximize their income. But Zeke plays a game. He plays a game for my entertainment. I would much rather read about what is going on on the field rather than these machinations. I really do not care.

    But if it takes away from the sport, i.e. encouraging top players to hold out for just another million, then it is degrading the product on the field. So yeah. Keep rooting for players to lose a year or so for cash while everyone continues to complain about the quality of the game.

  42. Yes he should definitely sit out to get paid.

    —signed – every Eagles fan on the planet

  43. If he wants to sit out — let him. The bottom line is, RB’s are not as important to an offense as they used to be. Most teams use the running back by committee approach today, anyway. The Patriots have done it consistently and have won more than anyone.
    If Elliott feels he’s under-paid, tell him to go to the players on the Cowboys who are not living up to their contracts and ask them to fork over some of their money.
    I am 100% with the Cowboys if they stick to their guns and make him honor his present contract.

  44. objectivefbfan says:
    March 19, 2019 at 10:03 am
    I’m with the poster who said enough of the financials. I may be mostly alone but I just do not care. If you hold out, in my book, then go find something else to do rather than play in the NFL.

    Yes, I think people (anyone, any profession) should maximize their income. But Zeke plays a game. He plays a game for my entertainment


    It’s a game to you but it’s a job/career to him. The “event” is a game. So is it better that we rename it a contest or meeting so we don’t have this ridiculous comment again?

  45. I am not a Zeke fan or a Cowboys fan, but I do recognize that he is probably the best running back in the league right now. Barkley is probably going to overtake him this season or next, but right now Zeke is the most important person to their team’s respective offense. He has had a ton of touches over the first three years of his career and the more a RB touches the ball the shorter his career becomes. So if I was in his shoes I would hold out, as the Cowboys will obviously option him for his fifth year and are one of the teams that are willing to use the Franchise tag whether a player wants to or not. Besides he needs to get his bankroll before Dak signs his extension or his deal might not be as sweet as it should be. Finally the RB position takes such a pounding by 300 pd linemen falling all over them or 250 pd linebackers hitting them with a full head of steam . . . so he is always just one play away from ending any hope of a big money contract. He should go to Jerry and privately state, pay me, trade me or I’ll be holding out and you can see just how exposed Dak is without me back there carrying the rock.

  46. crush22 says:
    March 19, 2019 at 10:11 am
    If you’re under contract, honor it.
    Be a man.

    Tell the organization to honor the contract when they cut players. Why is the loyalty supposed to be one-sided in your mind?

  47. If he sits out he doesn’t earn 3.8MM AND MUST PAY BACK 4MM in bonus.
    The total cost to him is: 7.94MM

    The odds of getting seriously hurt are not that high.
    I think his 5th year option is around 14MM.

    I’d play.
    Now if he was 2nd round pick, making $700K THEN I’d sit out.

  48. The obvious difference between Bell and Zeke is that Bell will never overcome that huge one year loss. Zeke’s rookie annual is low enough that he could easily make that up with a new contract.

  49. Please don’t compare Emmitt to Zeke. Don’t forget, Zeke cost his team more than the 6 games he had to sit for suspension. That whole season was lost due to the uncertainty while he appealed. And the whole thing was brought about by very poor choices off the field. Emmitt stayed in and didn’t associate with the wrong people. He didn’t hit the bars and party and get in trouble. He took care of his body and that’s why he lasted so long.

  50. Star players and their agents are figuring out they have power, and like any good business person, they should use it, the owners have been for years. It’s no fun for the fans, but in the end, the NFL is a business, so why criticize the players for using whatever power they have?

  51. Follow in Aaron Donald’s footsteps. Hold out all of preseason, show up week 1, Get paid & sit first week or so (less wear & tear), be offensive POY.
    Due it again next year.

  52. Follow in Aaron Donald’s footsteps. Hold out all of preseason, show up week 1, Get paid & sit first week or so (less wear & tear), be offensive POY.
    Due it again next year.

  53. Pay Zeke and then pay cooper then look at Dak and ask him if he wants to be a part of this!!!! If not draft a new Qb !!! At least you will have a team that compete instead of having a Qb and nothing else

  54. wmgates68 says: “Tell the organization to honor the contract when they cut players. Why is the loyalty supposed to be one-sided in your mind?”

    Who said anything about loyalty? The team honors the contract by paying the player when he’s on the team. It’s also in the contract on how and when a contract can be terminated, as NEGOTIATED AND SIGNED by the player.

    That player also got into that starting role because the previous veteran player was cut, which opened up the spot and freed the salary cap room to offer him the contract. The cycle just continues.

  55. The next Players / Owners CBA Deal needs to try to carve this nonsense out. It is bad for both parties when a Player can choose to not perform and an Owner can just cut a contract early without pay (minus any guarantee payouts).

    If the Players were able to get NBA style Guaranteed Deals then the Owners should request that Players are held to their contract throughout it’s duration (penalties if not). It works both ways. Players should play and Teams should stand behind the contract terms.

    The Players have every right to fight for a high end deal relative to their demand since they know most of their contract can evaporate if the team just cuts them so any contract is only worth the length a team wants them around. IF the Owners give in and allow Guaranteed Deals then the Players should give up their ability to sit out, hold out, or non-perform.

    OR… bring on Incentive Deals. You want to get paid? Show up, Stay healthy, and Produce. The Players wont ever make that the norm unless they get Full Contract Guarantees (with reasonable injury protections if incentivized). The NBA model can work in the NFL with a few tweaks.

    It is very one sided that Owners can control the fate of the Contract when BOTH parties agreed to the Contract (and signed it) in the first place. The current “contract” makes the players view their deal as more of a recommendation than anything actually binding. If both parties are forced to “perform” the relationship could balance overnight.

    A signed contract between a Player / Team should mean:
    -The Player performs (plays, no hold outs, penalties for off the field issues)
    -The Team holds to the terms (pays player in full, duration of contract, any incentives/bonuses due)

    If either party can just bail on a contract, is it really a Contract? A true contract would hold both parties accountable and view them both as willing parties into a mutual relationship. Modern NFL contracts are NOT mutual relationships, they are temporary rental policies and that should change during the next CBA.

  56. xli2006 says: “The next Players / Owners CBA Deal needs to try to carve this nonsense out. It is bad for both parties when a Player can choose to not perform and an Owner can just cut a contract early without pay (minus any guarantee payouts).”

    As I said earlier, that player benefitted in getting more playing time and a BIGGER contract because the team was able to cut the previous underperforming starter.

    It’s a hard salary cap of $188m, which means the team is paying that out regardless. As a fan, do you really want part of that $188m going to an underperforming veteran that can’t do his job, or give a rookie a chance to start (and earn the big 2nd contract) and use the available savings on another productive starter?

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