While Zeke Elliott does pushups and crunches in Mexico, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones seems to be trying to convince everyone that not having his holdout, superstar back doesn’t hurt the Cowboys’ championship hopes.
In fact, when Jones was asked in an interview with CBS Dallas-Fort Worth about the comparisons between Elliott and Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, Jones was adamant that a rushing champion wasn’t necessarily needed to win a Super Bowl and that Smith became the first one to do it when he did in 1993.
“The point is, you don’t have to have a rushing champion to win a Super Bowl,” he said. “… Emmitt was the first one to do it. That’s one of the dilemmas at running back is that the league knows that you can win Super Bowls and not have the Emmitt Smith back there or not have Zeke back there.”
Jerry Jones didn’t become one of the richest and most respected NFL owners by giving into superstar player’s demands. Everyone knows Zeke will eventually get paid, but he’s not going to strong-arm Jones into breaking the bank two years early.
Jones was in this exact situation about a quarter-century ago with another superstar running back on another Dallas Cowboys team with Super Bowl aspirations.
Back in 1993, Smith held out during the start of the season and when Dallas lost the first two games, Jones panicked and re-signed Smith to a four-year, $13.6 million deal, making Smith the highest-paid running back in the sport.
Looks like Jones is a bit more confident this time around in his backup options. He’s even taunting Elliott in public and showing tremendous confidence in rookie Tony Pollard who had five carries for 42 yards and one touchdown in the Week 2 preseason matchup against the Rams.
When he was asked about Elliott’s holdout, Jones joked “Zeke who?” in response to the question and then went on to say that “we’re having some fun, not at your expense” in reference to Elliott.
Elliott’s agent Rocky Arceneaux told Chris Mortensen of ESPN that Zeke’s camp “didn’t think it was funny and neither did Zeke — we actually thought it was disrespectful,” Arceneaux said.
It drew a few laughs but neither @EzekielElliott nor agent Rocky Arceneaux found @Cowboys Jerry Jones' quip "Zeke who?" as amusing. Arceneaux: "I didn't think it was funny and neither did Zeke – we actually thought it was disrespectful."
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) August 19, 2019
Sensing some leverage developing in the negotiations, Jones gushed about Pollard after the game and the possibility of the rookie and Elliott balling in the same backfield.
Yes, Jerry Jones said "Zeke who", when asked if Tony Pollard is his "best negotiator".
But… this is the full "Zeke who?" sound bite from Jerry, complete with the necessary context of his follow-up to the joke, saying the #Cowboys need both Zeke Elliott and Tony Pollard. pic.twitter.com/yDiZnlwwke
— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) August 18, 2019
By all indications, if worse comes to worst and the two sides can’t come to an agreement, Jones is ready to roll the dice rather than award Zeke a contract two years early and let him set the market too.
Best case scenario for Jones is Zeke holds out and Pollard becomes a monster, forcing Zeke to take less money or even wait until his contract is up to get paid. The easier road for all of Cowboys Nation is for Jones to just pay Zeke, rather than make these negotiations messy before what could be a promising season.
Zeke has already said he is willing to sit out as long as it takes. With the way Zeke’s been disrespected and basically rendered unimportant by his owner on several occasions, it might be time for the two-time Pro Bowler to think about joining another organization.