Mac Engel

Zeke, buy your agent a bottle of Dom. Y’all will have crushed the Cowboys on this deal

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Clarence Hill gives you five players to watch as the Dallas Cowboys open the season against the New York Giants.

Congrats, Zeke. You found your sucker.

We should all be so lucky.

The 24/7 posturing, talk and veiled threats about the greatest running back to ever carry any ball of any dimension is over, and the only way Jerry Jones wins his latest deal is if his toy wins the Super Bowl in the next three years.

The only way six years and $90 million looks good for a running back (to be exact, the Cowboys won the actual Super Bowl game in 1996) is a title.

Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting that Zeke is now the highest paid running back in NFL history; six-years, $90 million. Of that cash, $50 mil’ is guaranteed. If one can live on that.

The Zeke landed back in DFW Airport from his extended stay in Cabo on Tuesday. Also in town are Zeke and “his team,” which is only one of the more annoying terms used in sports these days, next to analytics.

Zeke was greeted by fans, and a handful of DFW media members ready and eager to pounce on his arrival from exile.

Zeke will be signed and happy before the Cowboys host the New York Giants on Sunday in the regular season opener.

All of the talk was worth nothing, because this conclusion was inevitable to a contract the Cowboys will regret.

Three years is essentially the window for Ezekiel Elliott’s top-end production. Three years is essentially the life-span for a second contract for most NFL players who sign the five, or six, year deals (quarterbacks don’t apply here).

Best case for the Cowboys and Zeke Elliott is that their franchise running back remains one of the top at his position for the next three years, and the team wins its first Super Bowl since 1995... the same year Zeke was born.

A sixth year is a bit of a surprise, but all of this was inevitable. Zeke is here because Jerry can’t help himself, and he is the ultimate signature with the Dallas Cowboys.

Zeke, hug your agent tight and buy him a bottle of Dom.

This new deal is not quite Marion Barber-ish, but in this version of World War Z, Zeke body slammed Jerry. Z was under contract for two more years, threatened to miss games in a holdout, and Jerry Jones and the Cowboys made a few threatening noises only to bury Elliott in life-altering wealth.

Don’t ever insult Jerry with accusations that the man does not care about winning. That care is what gets him in trouble.

Jerry’s spending aside, anything less than Zeke balling out for three years, or the Cowboys winning the Super Bowl while he is still their featured back, and these last 40 days and 40 nights were a waste of time, and Jerry’s cash.

Zeke is 24 years old. He will be 31 when this contract expires. Given the way NFL running backs age, he will not be with the team as a 31-year-old man.

The more likely scenario is he has a few good years, wears down, is cut, and finishes his career with little fanfare for another team. That’s the typical arc for these things. After all, Emmitt Smith didn’t even finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.

(FWIW: Former Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, who is not as good as Zeke, played seven NFL seasons and retired at 29.)

The timeline on this new deal should be measured in three years. If Zeke can have another three consecutive top tier seasons, he essentially will have done his part. Five or six is unrealistic.

Zeke will be paid to be the top running back in the NFL, and that’s his end of this deal. That and not being suspended, or getting busted for doing something stupid in the late hours of an evening.

He can’t control quarterback Dak Prescott’s development, good or bad. Zeke can’t sack a quarterback or pick off a pass.

Worst case is that Zeke ages even faster than normal NFL running backs, sustains an injury, or is suspended by the NFL again for being stupid, and he flattens like stale Coke for a team that needs him more than they want to admit.

Best case is Zeke continues at his current pace for the next three years, and the Cowboys defy God’s unwritten edict and actually do win a Super Bowl in that time frame.

What are the chances of either happening?

Glad you asked; the last time the NFL’s leading rusher won a Super Bowl was 1998, when Terrell Davis did it for the Denver Broncos. There have been plenty of great, Hall of Fame, highly paid running backs since then.

LaDainian Tomlinson. Adrian Peterson.

And, for those of you who need a second reminder, the last time the Cowboys won the Super Bowl was 1995, but technically the game was played in 1996 ... so it was not that long ago.

Either way, Zeke will get his and now Jerry and Cowboys fans continue in the hope that they will get theirs.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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