Ezekiel Elliott may sit out 2019 season without new deal

August 6, 2019

Things still appear to be relatively cordial between the Dallas Cowboys and star running-back Ezekiel Elliott, who is currently holding out in hopes of forcing the Cowboys to give him a new contract. But if there was any doubt about how serious the 24-year-old is about getting a new deal, that's quickly dissipating.

Josina Anderson of ESPN reported Tuesday morning that the two-time Pro-Bowler doesn't plan to play in 2019 under his current contract. Given that Le'Veon Bell sat out the entire 2018 season after the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise tagged him for a second consecutive season, it's hard to dismiss any threats from star running-backs not to play under their current contractual circumstances.

Per Anderson, the belief still is that Elliott will ultimately play in 2019. However, she says she reached out to Elliott's representatives in response to Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson saying Monday that he had heard from Elliott's agent that "it really is possible he will miss some games." This report didn't exactly squash that idea.

Elliott is under contract for two more seasons, which perhaps incentives him to sit out if a new deal isn't reached. Not only do the Cowboys control Elliott for the next two seasons - when he's scheduled to make just shy of $13 million on his rookie deal - but they can franchise tag him for two additional seasons after that, just as the Steelers attempted to do with Bell. So there's a very real chance that Elliott wouldn't actually be able to become a free-agent until after his seventh NFL season, when his stock likely would be much lower than it is now.

Ezekiel Elliott is entering his fourth NFL season.
Ezekiel Elliott is entering his fourth NFL season. Photo credit (Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

If Elliott were to sit out the 2019 season, he would forfeit his chance to accrue a season towards free-agency, meaning the next time he played, he would still have two years left on his rookie deal. While that's a risk, it's seemingly one worth taking for Elliott, because given the nature of the running-back position, his stock likely will only go down the longer he spends in the league.

Though Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones did wonder aloud last week about whether a Super Bowl team needs an elite running-back, he calmly stated Monday that he expects that the Cowboys will ultimately sign Elliott, quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper to long-term deals. Both Prescott and Cooper, unlike Elliott, can become free-agents after the 2019 season.

The No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Elliott has rushed for 4,048 yards in his first three NFL seasons, while leading the Cowboys to NFC East titles in 2016 and 2018.