Cow­boys’ Jerry Jones seems worry-free over El­liott hold­out

The Saline Courier Weekend - - SPORTS - By Schuyler Dixon As­so­ci­ated Press

OX­NARD, Calif. — Ezekiel El­liott’s con­tract hold­out doesn’t have Dallas Cow­boys owner Jerry Jones wor­ried about a res­o­lu­tion or a time­line.

At least that’s the mes­sage Jones is of­fer­ing about try­ing to get a deal done with his miss­ing two-time NFL rush­ing cham­pion.

“When have I ever not done one?” Jones said after prac­tice at train­ing camp Thurs­day night. “So I don’t worry about that. You just keep plug­ging.”

El­liott has missed five camp prac­tices while seek­ing a new con­tract de­spite hav­ing two years re­main­ing on his cur­rent one.

The fourth over­all choice in the 2016 draft, El­liott is due to make $3.9 mil­lion this sea­son and $9.1 mil­lion in the fifth year, which was a team op­tion since the for­mer Ohio State star was a first-round pick.

Two days after sev­enyear vet­eran and for­mer

El­liott backup Al­fred Mor­ris re­turned to the Cow­boys, Jones sug­gested he was pre­pared for a long hold­out with the 2016 All-pro who led the league in rush­ing as a rookie that year.

“I don’t see a point months into the sea­son,” Jones said. “While we’re not there right now, there are some lines there. And they do bite when you don’t play. I don’t have a time that I’m look­ing at that is a con­cern.”

The Cow­boys can fine El­liott $40,000 per day, and El­liott risks los­ing a sea­son that would count to­ward free agency if he doesn’t re­port at least 30 days be­fore the Sept. 8 sea­son opener at home against the New York Giants.

El­liott isn’t the only of­fen­sive star for the Cow­boys with a big pay­day com­ing.

Quar­ter­back Dak Prescott, a rookie sen­sa­tion along­side El­liott when Dallas won the NFC East three years ago, is in the fi­nal year of his first deal. The 2016 NFL Of­fen­sive Rookie of the Year has a base salary of just $2 mil­lion after go­ing 32-16 as the starter in his first three sea­sons.

Re­ceiver Amari Cooper, who joined the Cow­boys in a mid­sea­son trade last year and sparked a slug­gish of­fense, is by far the high­est-paid of the three at the mo­ment. Cooper is at $13.9 mil­lion in the fifth year of the rookie deal he signed as the fourth over­all pick a year be­fore El­liott.

“As far as do­ing some­thing that would dis­rupt and shake the base of our plans for how to keep the tal­ent we’ve got here and how to do that, I’m not about to shake that loose over that con­cern,” Jones said.

El­liott was seen in Frisco, Texas, where the Cow­boys have their prac­tice fa­cil­ity, on re­port­ing day for play­ers in Cal­i­for­nia. He has since gone to Cabo San Lucas, Mex­ico, where he spent time two years ago dur­ing his six-game sus­pen­sion over do­mes­tic vi­o­lence al­le­ga­tions.

“I’m not even giv­ing it a se­cond thought as to his conditioni­ng, which is part of his abil­ity to step right in,” Jones said when asked about Cabo. “That’s not even an is­sue.

I’m not con­cerned about him miss­ing reps out here rel­a­tive to get­ting his timing down.”

El­liott had an­other off-field is­sue this past off­sea­son — a run-in with a se­cu­rity guard at a mu­sic fes­ti­val in Las Ve­gas. The NFL cleared him in that in­ci­dent about three weeks be­fore camp.

“A lot of the neg­a­tive stuff you hear about him in the news and all that, that’s not who he is,” said run­ning backs coach Gary Brown, who said he has talked to El­liott since the team ar­rived in Cal­i­for­nia. “He’s a re­ally good guy, cares about his team­mates and it’s killing him not to be here.”

Mor­ris was the pri­mary back dur­ing El­liott’s 2017 sus­pen­sion, rush­ing for 430 yards and a touch­down in those six games. He had a ca­reer-high 1,613 yards rush­ing as a rookie with Wash­ing­ton in 2012.

“I’m def­i­nitely con­fi­dent in my­self that I can be a featured back,” said the 30-year-old Mor­ris, who spent two sea­sons with the Cow­boys after sign­ing as a free agent a few weeks be­fore they drafted El­liott. “I still have it. I feel bet­ter now than I did my rookie year.”

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