After watching Ezekiel Elliott skip on Thursday, the Cowboys were hoping that he might show up for the start of camp on Friday morning, but that didn't happen, which means we officially have a holdout on our hands.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones met with the media on Friday and he clearly wasn't very thrilled with the fact that Elliott decided not to show.
"We expect everybody that's under contract to be here at camp," Jones said. "They've agreed to be here. ... He's late. We have officially reported, and so he's a non-report."
Jones expected Elliott to show up to training camp because the Cowboys running back still has two years left on his rookie contract, a deal that's scheduled to pay him $3.9 million in 2019 and $9.1 million in 2020. Since Elliott's under contract, the Cowboys now have the option of fining him $40,000 for every day that he misses camp. However, it's unclear if the Cowboys will actually fine him. Jones was vague when he was asked specifically about that possibility.
"[The CBA] certainly provides for that," Jones said of possibly fining Elliott. "I've not ever made it a practice of getting into the details of how we execute our agreements, or how we operate within our agreements, but his agreement provides for fines and it's certainly doable under the CBA."
Jones also said he wouldn't be giving daily updates on Elliott's contract or any other negotiations.
"I do want to make the point, we will not be giving updates on any of our contractual status of our players," Jones said. "The last thing we want to get into is a daily update of contracts."
If the Cowboys want Elliott to report to camp, they're going to have to write a monstrous check. According to Yahoo Sports, Elliott is looking for a deal bigger than the four-year, $57 million contract that the Rams gave Todd Gurley. If the Cowboys cave in and give Elliott a contract that size, it would make him the highest-paid running back in NFL history. Gurley's deal and an average annual value of $14.375 million, which are both records.
Gurley was given his deal in 2018, when he still had two years left on his rookie contract, which is the exact same situation Elliott is currently in. The problem for Elliott is that he doesn't really have any leverage from a negotiation standpoint. The Cowboys own his rights for two more seasons, and if you include the franchise tag, they could conceivably retain his rights for the next four years without ever offering him a new deal.
If the Cowboys were to let him play out his rookie contract (2019, 2020), then tag him in both 2021 and 2022, that would only cost them roughly $40 million for those four years ($10 million per year), which means Elliott has to convince them he's worth an extra $17.5 million on top of that.
The bottom line is that Elliott is holding out because he feels he's underpaid, and it's hard to argue with him, considering he's led the NFL in rushing for two of the past three seasons. The good news for the Cowboys is that the two sides are talking. Executive vice president Stephen Jones told the media on Friday that he's currently having contract discussions with Elliott's agent.