Despite July's agitation and August's frustration, it's hard to imagine now, at the beginning of September, that anyone's going to remember Ezekiel Elliott's holdout even six months from now.
Wednesday morning, just as the Cowboys began game-week preparations for the New York Giants in earnest, the team announced that it's made Elliott the highest-paid running back in football. Elliott's going to play in the season opener after taking zero snaps in the preseason, just like he did 2018 and just as he likely will do in 2020.
Elliott's deal — a six-year, $90 million extension that includes $50 million in guaranteed money — is a win-win for the player, the Cowboys and the team's management. Elliott gets what he wanted: financial security and compensation he feels is appropriate for his performance level — the Rams' Todd Gurley, the NFL's erstwhile highest-paid runner, got $45 million guaranteed before the 2018 season. The on-the-field Cowboys will have their best offense on the field for all 16 games of a pivotal season and the off-the-field Cowboys have both taken one step closer to locking up one of the league's best young cores and done so in a way that gives them future financial flexibility.
The length of Elliott's contract — he's now signed for the next eight seasons, if you include the two remaining years on his rookie deal — leaves plenty of opportunity for the Cowboys to restructure it to better fit the salary cap, should the need arise. As long as Elliott stays off the NFL's disciplinary radar, there's no real reason this contract can't work for both sides, long term and short term.
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For a man who just spent a minimum of $50 million on a position he claimed wasn't an essential part of winning a Super Bowl earlier this summer, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones seemed pretty happy during an appearance on CNBC's Squawk Box on Wednesday morning.
"I just turned my pockets out upstairs," Jones told the show's hosts, laughing. "(The contract) means I'm about $100 million lighter as of this morning. ... Zeke has been, arguably, our best player. I'm not trying to disrespect anybody else, but he's been an incremental part to our success."
Jones seemed like he was in a good mood, so we'll assume he meant "instrumental," rather than "incremental."
It's easy to see why Jones felt like celebrating Wednesday. Let's hope Elliott doesn't make him change his tune.