Cowboys Close on Ezekiel Elliott Deal But One Factor Remains to Get Contract Finished

The Dallas Cowboys and running back Ezekiel Elliott are close on a new deal. The figurative finish line is in sight, but successfully crossing it may take a Herculean effort in the next two days. Some progress has been made over the course of the weekend and Zeke is close to returning to the team. But what is keeping him in Cabo as the regular season's first game approaches?

According to the Dallas Morning News, the team and Elliott are still apart on the overall size of the contract and are much closer in terms of guaranteed money. However, "more work is needed" in terms of average salary. Elliott wants to top Todd Gurley's deal, which would require at least $45 million guaranteed and an average salary better than $14.375 million.

Back in February, the Cowboys executive vice president, Stephen Jones, said that Gurley's contract set the standard for a new deal. This provided hope to Elliott's representatives that his value would be recognized by way of a massive contract extension.

After the New York Jets signed Le'Veon Bell to a contract worth $52.5 million with guarantees close to $35 million, however, Jones said the market had changed. In the months following this statement, the team offered Elliott a contract that would make him the second-highest-paid running back in the league, but he turned it down.

Now, however, the Ohio State product is on the cusp of signing a massive deal that will make him the highest-paid player at his position. The extension is still in progress and needs more work, but both sides believe that Elliott will be putting pen to paper very soon.

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If this deal gets done prior to the new Wednesday deadline, does that mean Elliott will play in week one? Well, head coach Jason Garrett doesn't want to discuss this matter. Instead, he would simply prefer to think about the running backs that are in the building, such as Tony Pollard, Alfred Morris and Jordan Chunn.

"That's a hypothetical," Garrett said. "Zeke is as capable as anybody I know. He's an experienced player. He's been a really good player for us. He knows our system of football. I don't think there will be a lot of learning there. He's a smart guy; he's an instinctive guy. But again, that's a hypothetical. We're just focused on the guys we have right now. We're going to go practice as well as we can to prepare the right way to prepare for the Giants."