Clay Travis: Ezekiel Elliott 'Blew It' During Dallas Cowboys Contract Negotiations

With multiple reporters, including ESPN's Adam Schefter, breaking news that Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will soon be under contract, optimism is in the air. After all, Elliott is arguably the best player on the offense and will be critical throughout the season. Big D needs him in the building to make the run to the playoffs, starting with a victory over the New York Giants in week one. If the contract negotiations are over as reported, it's time to celebrate Zeke's return to the team facility!

Well, radio host Clay Travis wants to pump the brakes just a little. The man responsible for Outkick the Coverage on Fox Sports Radio weighed in on the Elliott situation Sunday afternoon, and he doesn't see how this is proceeding well. Travis actually believes that Zeke "blew it" during the negotiations and could be in line to miss some games early.

"I think Ezekiel Elliott blew it," Travis said. "He should have been happy to be the second-highest-paid running back in the entirety of the NFL. This is a bad decision by him. He already has a five-year contract essentially. He's only played three years, he's got two years left. I don't like this move by Ezekiel Elliott."

Travis continued by explaining that he doesn't understand why team owner Jerry Jones is negotiating out in public. He believes that these talks should be done quietly before the deal is announced. Although that is more of a side note to his belief that Elliott will miss some games because Jones "can't afford" to pay him with quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper also needing to get deals done.

To Travis' point about Jones, it would have been better if the team owner did conduct negotiations quietly without providing information to reporters, but that's simply not how he operates. Jones has been wheelin' and dealin' like this for decades, and he has previously stated that he would rather deal directly with players than agents. At the age of 79, he's not changing this approach.

Now, to the other point. Travis said that Elliott should have been happy being the second-highest-paid running back in the league. Currently, the top contract belongs to Todd Gurley, who signed a four-year, $57.5 million deal in 2018 that includes an average salary of $14.375 million and $45 million guaranteed. This is a mega-deal in the era of running backs being paid like lower-tier players, but Elliott wants to top those numbers.

Upon comparing overall health and stats, Zeke's viewpoint is understandable. He's produced like the top running back in the league and has averaged more yards-per-game than the Rams star. Although his touchdowns have been less frequent.

Elliott has been extremely effective during his three-year career. In only 40 out of a possible 48 regular-season games, the Cowboys star has rushed for 4,048 yards and 28 touchdowns. He's added another 1,199 yards and six touchdowns as a receiver. This includes two seasons in which Elliott led the league in rushing yards (2016, 2018).

For comparison, Gurley has appeared in 58 out of a possible 64 regular-season games as a member of the Rams. Like Elliott, he has also been used as both a runner and a receiver. Gurley has tallied 4,547 yards and 46 touchdowns on the ground with another 1,883 yards and 10 touchdowns as a receiver. He's been extremely effective in terms of scoring, but his 78.4 yards-per-game pales in comparison to Zeke's 101.2.

There is also the small matter of health that must be considered. Currently, the reports surrounding Gurley and his knee are murky at best. He was limited leading up to Super Bowl LIII with an ailment that has since been described as arthritis in his knee. He split time with backup C.J. Anderson before the Rams ultimately selected Memphis star Darrell Henderson with a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

At this point, it's unclear as to if Gurley will ever be the same running back that left Georgia and burst onto the scene. Yes, he could be just as explosive in 2019, but no one truly knows.

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Elliott, on the other hand, has only missed time due to a six-game suspension in 2017. In 2016 and 2018, he appeared in 15 out of 16 possible regular-season games due to the Cowboys resting the majority of the starters in week 17. Zeke has had no issues with injuries despite his heavy workload and has instead performed at an impressive level. Will the Cowboys reward his consistency?

Ultimately, the viewpoints of Clay Travis and everyone else outside of the Dallas Cowboys front office does not matter during these discussions. The only important factor is whether or not the team believes Elliott is better than Gurley and worth more money. Everything else is irrelevant.