The holdout has come to an end, and Ezekiel Elliott is about to be a very happy and wealthy man. The two-time NFL rushing champ has been awarded a six-year contract extension (on top of his two current seasons) from the Dallas Cowboys worth more than $90 million, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
Elliott's maximum deal will mushroom to eight years worth $103 million when included with his previous contract, making him the highest-paid running back in NFL history. Elliott will take home nearly $50 million in guarantees on his new contract. Details are still being clarified. ESPN's Todd Archer first reported the agreement.
Ezekiel Elliott finally signed his deal! And he got … $90 million??? Did the Cowboys make a mistake? Are these numbers real?? What should we expect from him in Week 1?? To answer all those questions plus much more, Will Brinson, John Breech, Ryan Wilson and Jared Dubin fired up an emergency Pick Six Podcast to break it all down. Listen in the player below and subscribe to our daily podcast!
Since being selected fourth-overall by the Cowboys in 2016, Elliott has achieved two NFL rushing titles along with two All-Pro and Pro Bowl nods en route to becoming arguably the best running back in football. He's averaging over 100 rushing yards per game for his career, having led the NFL in the category all three of his seasons. Elliott missed six games in 2017 because of a suspension related to accusations of domestic violence that were never pursued in the legal system.
The running back's talents have never been up for debate, though. And when he plays, Dallas has been 28-12 in the regular season. This is why the Cowboys initially made the expected move to exercise Elliott's fifth-year option that secured him through the 2020 season.
That still left the question of just when they'd pull the trigger on an extension, however, something that was initially unlikely to occur ahead of quarterback Dak Prescott and/or wide receiver Amari Cooper, when considering both of those contracts were set to expire after 2019. It's never been about the Cowboys devaluing Elliott, as suggested in some of the more provocative headlines you've likely read, but it's instead simple chronology: 2019 comes before 2020.
Still, talks weren't quickly paced, and it led to a holdout that began at the start of training camp, and Elliott heading to Cabo to train -- at his agent's property where he did the same in 2017 during his suspension. Negotiations continued, however, but Elliott and the Cowboys were far apart on guaranteed money -- with the team focusing in on Le'Veon Bell's deal instead of that awarded to Todd Gurley -- despite team exec Stephen Jones noting earlier in the offseason that it was Gurley's contract that would be the starting point for talks with Elliott. All of that is behind them now, with their star running back heading back to Dallas to ink his deal.
The question on Elliott were always "when?" and "how much?"
Those same questions lingered over 2019 Fantasy football drafts. Fantasy Football Today analyst Dave Richard went in-depth on Elliott's status, but here's his key takeaway on where to draft the Cowboys RB:
Remind yourself of this: Elliott has the potential to get 2,000 total yards and double-digit touchdowns. Take a second look at the Cowboys offensive line, one of the best in the NFL. Refresh your take on the Cowboys offense given that they themselves refreshed who will call plays this year — Kellen Moore is expected to bring a much more creative approach. Just remember that Dallas added short-area targets in Jason Witten and Randall Cobb this summer, not to mention backup Tony Pollard grabbing a few passes each week.
Add it all up, and Elliott is worth taking in the top-two in non-PPR in remaining drafts, and is an easy top-four pick in PPR formats.
The next question is an obvious one, and it involves the season opener against the New York Giants, where the Cowboys were already seven-point favorites. Elliott is expected to report for practice on Wednesday morning, and that will give him at least two full sessions and a Friday walkthrough before Sunday. There's no doubt he'll take the field on Sept. 8, but his workload is to be determined after having not practiced since minicamp in June. Although Elliott is in great shape from his intense training in Cabo, he's not yet taken contract due to his training camp holdout, so the Cowboys will likely scale him back a bit in Week 1.
The four-year, $57.5 million deal with $45 million in guarantees signed by Gurley in 2018 ultimately served as the floor for Elliott. His new deal puts him well past the Rams star's, in both years and money. Elliott now can enter the 2019 season with a smile on his face and with the holdout behind him.
The "straw that stirs the drink" is back in the Cowboys' cup where he belongs, and for a long time to come.