The full contract is in, so let’s break it down from start to finish. The full Ezekiel Elliott deal, spelled out below.
Here are all the details:
1. Signing bonus: $7.5 million.
2. 2019 base salary: $752,137, fully guaranteed at signing.
3. 2020 base salary: $19.8 million, fully guaranteed at signing. (There’s a $13 million option bonus that triggers the 2026 season; if exercised, the base salary for 2018 reduces to $6.8 million.)
4. 2021 base salary: $9.6 million, guaranteed for injury only at signing. It becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2020 league year.
5. 2022 base salary: $12.4 million, guaranteed for injury only at signing. It becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2021 league year.
6. 2023 base salary: $10.9 million.
7. 2024 base salary: $10 million.
8. 2025 base salary: $15.4 million.
9. 2026 base salary: $16.6 million.
The deal includes an annual salary de-escalator of $500,000 from 2020 onward, based on Elliott participating in at least 90 percent of the offseason program, participating fully in all minicaps, and participating fully in training camp.
Elliott gets $28 million fully guaranteed at signing. That amount pushes to $37.65 million by the middle of March. By March 2021, it’s $50.05 million.
As a practical matter, he’s getting the $37.65 million to cover the first three years of the deal, and the $50.05 million over the first four years of the deal.
The deal gets interesting after four years, when it becomes a year-to-year deal from the team’s perspective. How many years will they keep Zeke beyond 2022? Will they pay $15.4 million in 2025 or $16.6 million in 2026? Will they eventually squeeze him to take less?
These are questions that the Cowboys will be facing after the next four years and $50 million, regarding whether Zeke will get $52.9 million over the four after that.