1. Ezekiel Elliott, RB
Anyone frustrated by the loss of Amari Cooper can blame the contract the Cowboys handed out to Ezekiel Elliott in 2019. Despite still having two years on his deal, Elliott held out and jumped the line, moving ahead of Dak Prescott who should have been extended first.
After pretending they weren’t going to give in, Dallas folded like a cheap lawn chair and signed Zeke to a six-year, $90 million extension with $50 million of that being fully guaranteed. That extension went on top of the two years remaining, meaning 2021 was the first year of his new deal.
So, in a league where running backs are a dime a dozen and they fall apart after four or five seasons, the Cowboys essentially gave their back an eight-year deal that doesn’t expire until the 2026 season.
The only good news for them is that there’s an out ahead of the 2023 season. According to OverTheCap.com, Dallas would eat roughly $5.8 million while saving $10.9 million by releasing Elliott after this season and making him a post-June 1 cut. They wouldn’t be able to use any of that money on free agents but it could help them extend some other key players after June.
With all that being said, Elliott hasn’t been a bad player by any means. He just had his fourth season with over 1,000 yards and had double-digit touchdowns for the third time in his career. But it’s not as if he’s the sole reason they’re winning. They could get equal production for much less money, and will likely do this in 2023.