Dallas Cowboys

Stephen Jones says Elliott is straw that stirs the drink. But what about a new deal?

The Dallas Cowboys selected two running backs in 2019 NFL Draft and they have yet to even talk to Ezekiel Elliott about a contract extension, causing some to wonder if the team is preparing for a future without the two-time rushing champ.

Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence got paid last month, securing the richest deal in franchise history at $105 million over the next five years.

Owner Jerry Jones and vice president Stephen Jones are admittedly in active negotiations on extensions for receiver Amari Cooper and quarterback Dak Prescott. They want to have them completed before the start of the season because it’s “the right thing to do.”

Elliott wants a new deal too, despite being under contract for two more seasons. He has severely outplayed his rookie deal and is in the prime of his career from an earning standpoint.

So what’s the holdup? Why is a deal for Elliott on the back burner?

It’s not because the Cowboys don’t value his importance, Stephen Jones said.

“He’s the straw, if you will, that stirs our drink. He’s a key part of what we’re about,” Jones said on the “Pro Football Talk Live” podcast on Thursday. “Certainly, he’s a priority in terms of ultimately getting him signed. But there hasn’t really been a timetable put on this.”

Jones reiterated what he said at the NFL Scouting Combine in February in terms of timetable and importance. The Cowboys already have a starting point in the form of the $52 million extension Todd Gurley got from the Los Angeles Rams before last season.

“We certainly saw what Gurley got paid, and we know that’s probably where it starts, and we’ll go from there,” he said at the NFL Combine, while adding they will pay Elliott at “some point in time.”

The issue for Elliott is when?

Gurley got paid after his third season.

Elliott just finished his third season. Not only has he won two rushing titles but he has led the league in yards per game in each of his three seasons in the league.

Considering the load he carries as “the straw that stirs in the drink” as the foundation of everything the Cowboys do on offense in terms of touches as a runner and receiver, he would prefer to get paid sooner rather than later. The toll on his body is going to be real and held against him “at some point in time.”

To his credit, he’s kept his mouth shut and has gone to work. He is participating in the off-season and showing great leadership with his fitness and work ethic.

As of now, it seems he has no plans of holding out for a new deal.

The Cowboys need to do right by Elliott just as they plan to do with Prescott and Cooper.

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.