August 13, 2022

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This might be Ezekiel Elliott's last stand with the Cowboys due to his bloated contract

This might be Ezekiel Elliott’s last stand with the Cowboys due to his bloated contract

Oxnard, CA – Since then Cowboys in Dallas Occurred Ezekiel Elliot For one of the worst decades of decline in modern history, it felt as if the clock was ticking at his passing.

Some bootcamp Echo also set up Wednesday, featuring a familiar story from a year ago. Something along the lines of: What can this team expect to break out of Ezekiel Elliott this season, and how long can he wait for him to live up to his elite salary level?

Last season’s answer was promising early on, until Elliott suffered a partial PCL rupture in Week 4, which led to what eventually became a frustrating regression for the remaining three months of the schedule. Elliott stayed on the field through injury, but he didn’t look like anything close to his best level of play.

The result was an off-season amplification of two questions that was destined to weigh on Elliot the moment he fell Six years, $90 million extension in 2019: How elite can Elliot be who retreats, and when does that answer reach a crossroads with his salary?

For some, this intersection already exists. The result was a training camp where it’s fair to ask if 2022 is the beginning of the end of his time in Dallas, a point he doesn’t seem to think about despite the questions swirling around him.

“I think it’s a big season, but you can’t look too far down the road,” Elliott said of his future. “I think if you focus on every day, if you focus on having a good day at camp, if you focus on going through it week after week, I think everything will handle itself. And I don’t really think there’s a reason to look that far down the road. I think it’s If I deal with my work every day, I will be in a very good position at the end of the season.”

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Dallas Cowboys turn-back Ezequiel Elliott has struggled to live up to his massive contract extension since signing him in 2019 (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Will Zeke suffer the same fate as other rich people?

Regardless of whether he thinks about it or not, the rationale for questioning the Elliott deal isn’t going away any time soon. Partly because the Cowboys had it again in Tony Pollard who at times showed a greater ability to play in more limited use. Also because Elliott’s contract was apparently poised for scrutiny from the start, thanks to a series of back-to-back elite deals that turned into franchise warts. It started with the continuing background of the Todd Gurley disaster with the Los Angeles Rams – Which saw a $60 million four-year extension turn into an unforgettable disaster for the franchise.

It doesn’t stop there, as all of Elliott’s other highly paid RB contemporaries struggle to make ends meet. So far, the Carolina Panthers have failed to get a return on Christian McCaffrey’s four-year, $64 million extension. Behind that, the Arizona Cardinals set out to try to weed out David Johnson’s three-year, $39 million extension for one season after he was signed to her. Even Alvin Kamara’s five-year, $75 million extension from the 2020 season is already teetering on the edge of some criticism, given his health issues in 2021 and Off the field that suspension could cost him this season.

They were all stories supporting an ideology that had grown roots throughout the league. One suggests that running back windows should either be limited to their start-up trades, and then the extensions should be dealt with by leading a tough deal and structuring a contract with an easy exit.

Dallas didn’t do that with Elliott, much to the chagrin of a fan base that had apparently become frustrated with a player whose best production came in his first four seasons and then faded after 2019. Now 2022 is entering back-to-back seasons of injured or ineffective play with Pollard pushing more Touches on the field.

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Some circumstances surrounding Elliott didn’t help at times, such as Dak Prescott’s injury at the end of the season in 2020 and the collapse of the offensive line that followed. Elliott also played last season through an ACL injury, where he could have shut himself down to stretch rather than grind all he could while playing a thankless role for blocking the top rack in the backcourt.

The contract will complicate Dallas decision

Just availability won’t change the reality of expectations this season, when Elliott appears to be entering on the “rebound or otherwise” measuring stick. At least, that’s how it looks. It’s worth noting that his economics isn’t that simple a year from now.

While the topic of Elliott’s upcoming potential off-season launch has already gained traction to enter this camp, the numbers aren’t as cut and dried as they seem. Yes, he holds an unsecured base salary of $10.9 million in 2023. But he also has $11.86 million in various bonuses that will accelerate to the salary cap as dead money if he is traded or released next season.

At the most basic level, the question of money versus talent is simple. The Cowboys could dispose of Elliott and incur a cost of $11.86 million, or they could keep him and incur a cost of $16.72 million. Pressing these two numbers against each other, it comes down to whether Elliott is worth carrying an extra $4.86 million in 2023. And if not, what kind of player will replace Elliott on the roster in 2023 for just $4.86 million.

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“The question is whether he’s still on the decline this year,” a league source said of Elliott. “He seems to be a player in decline. If that’s what he is, it may be nothing more than a modest dip by the time you make that decision. If you kill her this year, you obviously know the answer, because you’re not going to get a better player for him.” [$4.86 million] to replace him. But if it dips again this year, it doesn’t matter how much money you save or not. At this point, it is best to take the savings and transfer the opportunity to the player who can do more with it.”

This summary is there – who – which It is the question that cowboys have to deal with.

How good will Elliott be in 2022, and how much will replacement cost in 2023? These questions are about the next two seasons and not only that. Dallas knows this. Which is why coaching staff and the front office continue to use whatever language they can muster about why he is still important to the team.

That’s why head players Stephen Jones says “nobody competes like Zeke,” as if this were a data point that compensates for the gap between performance and pay.

That’s why coach Mike McCarthy called him a “key player” who does “all the extra little things,” largely because he knows Elliott lacks the big statistical “things” that make it easy to justify his salary.

The Cowboys are looking for reasons to keep Elliot in the fold until he returns to the style of play that finally demands his place in 2023. If he can do that, there is some financial rationale to justify it. If he couldn’t, he would have made the cowboys’ decision for them, no matter what was to blame this time.

Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy (right) continues to express his support for Ezequiel Elliott even as questions loom over Elliott's future with the team.  (Photo by Cooper Neal/Getty Images)

Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy (right) continues to express his support for Ezequiel Elliott even as questions loom over Elliott’s future with the team. (Photo by Cooper Neal/Getty Images)