Could Ezekiel Elliott be the odd man out as Cowboys pay their stars?

Shalise Manza YoungYahoo Sports Contributor

The Dallas Cowboys have done a good job of drafting key pieces in recent years: quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott, selected in 2016, and cornerback Byron Jones, selected in 2015, have all been named Pro Bowlers.

And last season, the Cowboys traded for another young Pro Bowler in Amari Cooper.

All of those players are coming up on their paydays. But could one be left out when it comes to a multi-year extension?

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Elliott could be odd man out

Recently, ESPN NFL reporter Dan Graziano posted a story running down 50 players he believed could get a contract extension before training camps open.

Somewhat surprisingly, Graziano wrote that Elliott could be the odd man out when it comes to getting a multi-year contract extension.

Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott could be on the outside looking in when the Cowboys agree to long-term deals with their young stars. (AP)
Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott could be on the outside looking in when the Cowboys agree to long-term deals with their young stars. (AP)

“Based on conversations I've had with several people connected to this situation, I do not think Elliott gets an extension this offseason, or even next offseason. As vital a player as he is, the Cowboys don't feel the same urgency with this deal that they do with Prescott, Cooper or even cornerback Byron Jones.

“They've picked up the 2020 [fifth-year] option on Elliott for $9.099 million, and because running back numbers always stay low relative to other positions, they feel good about their ability to use the franchise tag on him in 2021 if need be. They have sensible cost control over Elliott for at least three years. At his current pace, three years equates to about 1,000 touches. Would you be in a hurry to extend a running back — one of the most physically vulnerable positions in the league — if you knew you had another 1,000 touches coming at a reasonable price?”

Unfortunate reality of business

Unfortunately for Elliott, Graziano’s reporting of Dallas’ possible thinking makes sense based on how the NFL views running backs as disposable commodities.

On the field, Elliott is arguably the most successful of the four: he’s led the NFL in rushing yards in two of his first three seasons, including last year when he had 1,434 yards and averaged 4.7 yards per carry.

Elliott didn’t lead the league in 2017, but that was because of his six-game suspension handed down for a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy tied to an alleged domestic violence incident before he was drafted.

But at his NFL-high 98.3 yards per game for the 10 games he did play, Elliott would have likely won the rushing title that year too - the Chiefs’ Kareem Hunt had 1,327 yards that season.

Off the field, Elliott continues to find trouble; last month he was handcuffed by police in Las Vegas after shoving an event guard to the ground at a music festival. The guard, a 19-year-old, told a Los Angeles television station he didn’t want to press charges against Elliott, but he did want an apology.

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