Dallas Cowboys all-pro, running back Ezekiel ‘Zeke’ Elliot has been holding out all pre-season as he petitions for a new contract that will make him the highest paid running back in the league. Zeke has been one of the most productive backs in the NFL since he came into the league in 2016, though he’s had the advantage of playing behind Dallas’s star-studded offensive line. The Cowboys have made the playoffs in two of the last three seasons on the backs of that line, Zeke and quarterback Dak Prescott, who is also looking for a new deal.
After the Cowboys second preseason game, owner Jerry Jones joked with the media, “Zeke Who,” in response to rookie running back Tony Pollard’s 42-yard performance, which was capped by a touchdown. The comment was an attempt at comedic relief relating to the tense contract negotiation that has been ongoing for the last month. Jones has no intention of letting Zeke go and views Pollard as a great backup option behind Zeke.
Elliot has 2 years left on his rookie deal and is set to make a base salary this upcoming season of $3.9 million. Technically, he can be fined 40K per day for every day of training camp he has missed thus far, but that will go away when a deal is finally done.
Reports were released that Zeke was not happy about Jones’s joke, although Jason Witten, who recently returned to the Cowboys after a year in the ESPN booth, denies that Zeke took any offense, saying, “I thought it was a beautiful comment. Like everybody, I hope this gets resolved and Zeke is in there sooner rather than later.” He added, “No, [the joke] wouldn’t bother me. It didn’t bother Zeke either. Trust me, there’s nobody who loves Ezekiel Elliott more than Jerry Jones does. I wouldn’t have taken it that way and I’m sure Zeke didn’t either.”
There is no doubt signing Zeke to an extension is a priority for the Cowboys who are the wealthiest franchise in the NFL and have no shortage of cash. They also have made it a priority to extend current quarterback Dak Prescott who has progressed over his first three seasons in the NFL since winning offensive rookie-of-the-year over Zeke in 2016.
When this will all get done, nobody outside of the Cowboys organization really knows, but one would think it’s inevitable given the level of importance Elliot has for the team. Fantasy owners and Cowboy fans alike have suffered some major headaches throughout August as this situation has unfolded, but we have little doubt Zeke will suit up against the Giants in Arlington, Texas when the Cowboys open their season on September 8th.