Dallas Cowboys

Should the Dallas Cowboys prepare for Ezekiel Elliott to hold out of training camp?

Young fans try out some of the Dallas Cowboys players’ iconic moves

Tanglewood Elementary students mimic some of the iconic Dallas Cowboy moves such as Leighton Vander Esch's wolf howl and Ezekiel Elliott 'Feed Zeke' move.
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Tanglewood Elementary students mimic some of the iconic Dallas Cowboy moves such as Leighton Vander Esch's wolf howl and Ezekiel Elliott 'Feed Zeke' move.

The Dallas Cowboys began the offseason with three major contract priorities and a massive maybe.

They wanted to sign defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, quarterback Dak Prescott and receiver Amari Cooper to contract extensions because their situations were considered the most urgent.

Lawrence was an unrestricted free agent and the Cowboys got that done, signing him to a five-year, $105 million contract extension.

Prescott and Cooper were heading into the last year of their rookie deals so they were next up on the pecking order.

The maybe was running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is under contract for two more seasons

The Cowboys hoped to table those discussions because they thought they had more time.

Well, with the team set to report to training camp in Oxnard, Calif. on Thursday, time has seemingly run out on Jerry Jones.

There has been little to no progress on deals for Prescott and Cooper.

And Elliott is seriously contemplating not reporting to training camp if certain assurances aren’t made about progressing towards a deal for him.

Elliott has not made a decision to hold out as of yet, but it remains an option on the table, according to sources.

He has not told the Cowboys of any plans to hold out. But the message has been sent.

According to a source, the Cowboys plan to attack all three contracts in training camp with the hopes of getting something done before the start of the season.

The Cowboys can get all three done under the cap, according to a source.

But at what price exactly?

And if it was that simple, they would have already had Prescott done, which was the plan to hopefully set the table for the rest.

Per sources, Prescott was looking for at least $30 million annually on a multi-year contract extension before the Eagles signed Carson Wentz to a four-year, $128 million deal on June 6 that has an average salary of $32 million annually.

That the Cowboys have engaged in talks and exchanged proposals with Prescott’s agent Todd France is at least a sign of life, if not legitimate progress, compared to the negotiations with Cooper and his agents Joel Segal and Chafie Fields.

Cooper’s reps are waiting for prospective new deals for Atlanta’s Julio Jones and New Orleans’s Michael Thomas before negotiating in earnest with the Cowboys, according to sources.

The floor for Cooper is $16 million annually. The ceiling is unknown at this point.

Odell Beckham is the league’s highest-paid receiver at $18 million per season. But with Thomas and Jones hoping to reset the mark with $20 million deals, does that raise the floor for Cooper to perhaps Beckham’s ceiling?

Now back to Elliott, the two-time NFL rushing champion who has been the foundation of the Cowboys offense since joining the team as the fourth overall pick in 2016 out of Ohio State.

Vice president Stephen Jones said in February that the team planned to sign Elliott to a long-term contract extension on par with Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, who is the league’s highest-paid player at the position.

Gurley got his four-year, $60 million contract extension after his third season.

Elliott wants his now and has made that known.

The Star-Telegram reported in February that holding out was an option for Elliott if his demands were put on the back burner while the Cowboys prioritized other players.

Time has run out.

Will the Cowboys give Elliott assurances on a new contract to make sure he shows up for training camp?

Can the Cowboys get all three done and avoid the distractions of contract talk heading into the season?

Time will tell.

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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.
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