There is a 100 percent chance that Ezekiel Elliott will play for the Dallas Cowboys in 2019. There is too much money for him to lose.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott told his employer in January that he would not play in 2019 without a new deal. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones dug in this week and stated that he has earned the right to joke with his star running back.
The rhetoric is flying back and forth between the two sides. But what is absolutely certain is that Ezekiel Elliott will play for the Cowboys this season even if he doesn’t get a new deal.
Elliott does not have the leverage that former Pittsburgh Steeler and current New York Jet running back Le’Veon Bell had. Bell had accrued four seasons and was not under contract when he chose to not play the 2018 season.
Why does this matter? Had he been under contract, the Steelers could have tolled his contract which essentially would have taken the year he missed in 2018 and moved it to 2019.
Contract tolling is a little ambiguous in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The prevailing thought is that a team wishing to toll a contract will face a player who will grieve the action.
Consequently, an arbitrator would be asked to decide who would win. But before a decision would be made, the arbitrator would look back in time for any precedents.
Just happens that one exists with a bit of Cowboys historical reference. In 1999, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Joey Galloway held out for a new deal.
He was unsuccessful and relented playing eight games during the season. The Seahawks tried to toll his contract but an arbitrator ruled that he had played enough that season to fulfill his contract terms.
As a result, the Seahawks franchised tagged him and traded him to Dallas that offseason for two first round draft picks. With those picks they selected running back Shaun Alexander and wide receiver Koren Robinson.
Back to why it is inconceivable for Elliott to miss the 2019 season. He is under contract for both this upcoming season and the 2020 season.
Should he choose not to play in 2019, the Cowboys would almost certainly request to toll his contract. Since the 2011 CBA clearly defines six games as equal to a full season, an arbitrator would side with the Cowboys and Elliott would be required to play 2020 on his 2019 salary while losing a year’s worth of prime earning power.
So worst case scenario for Elliott will be showing up on Monday November 18 after the Cowboys played their 10th regular season game and receiving six game checks. Any later and he will risk playing 2020 for his $3,853,137 2019 salary.
If Ezekiel Elliott is intent on making north of $13 million, you have to believe he won’t risk his contract being tolled. Then again, Elliott might not want to miss any of his game checks and show up before the New York Giants game on September 8th.