We’re now a week from the NFL regular season kicking off, and the probability of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott actually missing games keeps looking stronger.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters after the team’s preseason game on Thursday that Elliott continuing his holdout into the regular season is an expectation at this point.
Jerry Jones on Ezekiel Elliott: "I'm operating as though right now he's going to miss regular season games. My entire expectation for what we're putting together as a team right now would anticipate with him holding out ... that he's going to miss games. I just accept that."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 30, 2019
If Jones doesn’t want to give Elliott something in the realm of Todd Gurley money soon, missing games is probably a reasonable assumption at this point.
Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout continues
Just a day earlier, Jones was also indicating he wasn’t too worried about Elliott missing regular season games. However, he still reserved some praise for the running back.
Does the possibility of not having Ezekiel Elliott to start the season change Jerry Jones' expectations for this Cowboys season?— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 30, 2019
Jones: "No. He can't, and won't, miss them all. We need Zeke. We're a better team with Zeke." https://t.co/Ixo48Aq8zq
Jerry Jones talking about the Cowboys' team identity, mentioned Ezekiel Elliott: "He's a lot of what I'd like to be part of our identity. And has been. I'll always remember him jumping in that red kettle. That's him in that locker room. And of course the player that he is."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 30, 2019
The fight over Elliott’s holdout has gotten personal in the last few weeks as the 24-year-old seeks to become the highest-paid running back in NFL history. The Cowboys were recently reported to have offered Elliott enough money to put him in the top 2 (so, second) among running backs, but that wasn’t enough.
Gurley currently sits atop in running back salary at $14.375 million per year, while Le’Veon Bell makes $13.125 million. The Cowboys’ offer seems to sit between the two.
Even if Elliott were to end his holdout tomorrow, it could still be questionable whether or not he’s ready for Week 1. There have been reports about him staying in shape, but running into NFL defenses is a different animal from working out in Cabo.
If Elliott really does miss regular season games, it will likely be fourth-round rookie Tony Pollard starting at running back for the Cowboys to begin the year.
Pollard has looked excellent in preseason, tallying 84 yards on only 15 rushing attempts along with 19 receiving yards on three completions and three targets. Then again, it’s still only preseason.
Jerry Jones: I don’t negotiate around agents
Jones also seemed to take exception to a recent report that his team is notorious for trying to go around agents and negotiate directly with players, a violation of the collective bargaining agreement and U.S. labor laws.
According to Jones, what he does with players when agents aren’t around is a little more basic than full negotiations.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: “Let me be real clear about something: I don’t negotiate with players.” pic.twitter.com/10FHQdfXOk— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) August 30, 2019
That argument from Jones could just be semantics, but it’s clear that whatever he’s doing with Elliott still isn’t working for now.
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