Ezekiel Elliott kept his focus on what he owes the Dallas Cowboys in the offseason, even as buzz built that a split could be on the horizon.
Elliott is scheduled to make $12.4 million in 2022, the end of an annual guarantee in the $90 million deal he signed in 2019. But Elliott sounded less than concerned about the Cowboys shipping him out of Dallas after the upcoming season. His scheduled 2023 salary of $10.9 million is not guaranteed.
“I think it is a big season, but I think you can’t look too far down the road,” Elliott said. “I think if I focus on every day, if I focus on having a good day of camp, if I focus on taking it week by week, I think everything will handle itself. And I don’t think there’s really a reason to look that far down the road. I think if I handle my business every day, then I’ll be in a pretty good situation at the end of the season.”
Elliott played most of last season with a partial tear of the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and averaged 58.9 yards per game. The Cowboys attempted to keep him fresh and the offense balanced by injecting Tony Pollard into the base offense, whereas he was largely a niche role player in previous seasons.
He was hurt four games into the season and admitted he took a step back and thought, “‘Dang, this thing still kind of feels a little iffy,'” Elliott said.
Elliott ended the season with 1,002 yards and 10 touchdowns on 237 carries. He faced questions about production and even his weight, but said he never considered sitting out a game to rest.
“It definitely was frustrating and definitely frustrating certain parts of the year, but it’s football,” Elliott said. “I think today might be the only day everyone’s going to be 100 percent. From here on out, everyone’s going to have a couple bumps and bruises and no one’s going to be 100, so just trying to do everything I can off the field to make sure I preserve my health and am ready for Sundays.”
Owner Jerry Jones and vice president Stephen Jones said in their media session to open training camp that Elliott remains part of the team’s core, in part because of his approach and willingness to sacrifice self for team.
Head coach Mike McCarthy echoed those words and said he would attempt to do more to keep Elliott fresh and healthy.
“Zeke Elliott is one of our rocks on this team,” McCarthy said. “He’s a keystone player. The communication, his ability to do all the extra little stuff and those are things I obviously get to look at and be a part of. The extra work he puts in pre-practice, post-practice, Tuesdays, I mean he’s in the quarterback meetings in the morning. The physical part of it — he overcame a lot to play and I think that speaks volumes about him and you need those type of individuals to win championships.”
–Field Level Media