How Ezekiel Elliott's Deal Compares to Emmitt Smith's Famous Cowboys Contract

Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott has agreed to a contract extension, which keeps him on the team for the next eight years and earn over $100 million. But based on recent history, this is nothing new for the Cowboys as they gave a record amount of money to a running back over 20 years ago. Kevin Turner of 105.3 in Dallas compared Elliott's new deal to Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith's contract he signed in 1996. Elliott, who signed a six-year, $90 million extension, has an eight percent salary cap hit which is same for running back Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams. Smith signed an eight-year, $63 million deal in 1996 and that took up 14 percent of the team's salary cap space.

Each year the salary cap has increased so Smith's deal is a little bigger than Elliott's. For the 2019 season, the salary cap is set at $188.2 million. In 1996, the salary cap was set at $40.753 million according to NFL Labor.

For Smith's deal, he got a $15 million signing bonus and he earned $48 million over the next eight seasons which at the time was the highest in league history. Before signing the new deal, Smith had one year left on his contract and negotiations dragged on into the preseason.

"I believed that the deal was going to get done and he showed that with a little work and a different approach to things it would get done, and it definitely did get done," Smith said to the Associated Press at the time.

Smith went on to have a productive year, rushing for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns. But in a way, it was kind of a down season for the legendary running back as he rushed for at least 1,400 yards the previous five years.


Like Smith, contract negotiations for Elliott went on into preseason. In fact, Elliott did not take part in any training camp practices and preseason games as he was training in Cabo. However, Elliott still had two years left on his rookie contract but wanted to get more money based on him leading the NFL in rushing and carries two of the last three seasons. It will be interesting to see what type of year Elliott has, but like Smith was during his time with the Cowboys, Elliott is the anchor of the offense that gives the team a chance to win week in and week out.