DALLAS — An interesting precedent may have been set when running back Ezekiel Elliott ended his holdout to sign a six-year, $90 million contract extension with the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday.
Want more money? Want some security? Holdout and the front office may give it to you.
As the Cowboys enter the 2020 season, they will have guard Connor Williams, defensive end Taco Charlton, and receiver Michael Gallup entering the penultimate years of their deals. If they aren't the type to think about pulling a Zeke Maneuver, no doubt the Cowboys will draft or sign someone like that as the years go by.
Chief operating officer Stephen Jones accepts that it is part of the business of pro football.
"I think those are things that are just part of it," Jones said at the team's annual kickoff luncheon on Aug. 28.
However, Jones added a dose of another reality to go along with the realization.
"I think you’ve got to be a rare player to do that," said Jones. "Otherwise, they’ll probably just sit out there as long as they want. It better be someone really special before they pull that."
It can be argued Elliott is really special enough to have a holdout. He has a better yards per carry through the first three seasons of his career than LaDainian Tomlinson. He joins Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith, Edgerrin James, Whizzer White, Bill Paschal, and Jim Brown as the only running backs in NFL history to produce two rushing titles in their first three seasons as a pro.
Since entering the league, the Cowboys are a .500 ball club without him, but have managed to win the NFC East when he plays at least 15 games (Week 17s have been "meaningless" in a good way in 2016 and 2018 for Dallas).
Said Jones: "There are very few guys who can play that card who are just going to say they’re not going to come in and take the risk that comes with fines and the money that piles up. You better be pretty confident that you’re pretty needed."
The Cowboys ostensibly needed Elliott. While there was confidence they could keep the running game alive against the New York Giants and the rest of their first three games against Washington and the Miami Dolphins, it was a dubious proposition to think they could win the Super Bowl without him.
Even Jones and his father, owner Jerry Jones, knew that, which is why they signed Elliott to an extension to end the holdout and put the focus back on football.
"I think Zeke’s a rare talent," Stephen said. "I do."
In 2019, the rest of the NFL will get to witness why the Cowboys think so and were willing to give him the money and security to put him back on the gridiron.
Do you think it was wise to make Ezekiel Elliott the highest paid running back in the league? Share your thoughts on the contract with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.