Per a league source, Elliott has privately said that he will hold out of training camp unless he gets a new contract.
The Cowboys haven’t focused on giving Elliott a new contract, largely because they don’t have to. They have instead focused on players with more immediate paths to free agency, from defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (who has signed) to quarterback Dak Prescott and receiver Amari Cooper (who haven’t).
Prescott and Cooper are due to become free agents next year. Elliott, the fourth overall draft pick in 2016, has two years remaining on his rookie deal, given that first-round selections are subject to a fifth-year option.
If Elliot indeed intends to holdout, he’s smart. He has significant value now, and after the next two years his worth to the franchise could plummet — either due to the wear and tear of playing tailback or a possible shift in offensive philosophy away from the team’s run-to-set-up-the-pass-but-still-run-a-lot strategy.
After former Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray led the league in rushing five years ago (and in turn set a single-season franchise record that still stands), the team let him leave via free agency. Elliott could be facing that same fate, which makes any plan to make a stand extremely sensible.
Due to make a salary of $3.85 million this year and $9.09 million in 2020, Elliott ultimately could looking for at least $10 million per year. Whether the Cowboys blink — and whether Elliott follows through on his plan to hold out — remains to be seen.