Skip to main content

Eatman: He's Not Alone, But Zeke Certainly Won


FRISCO, Texas – The reason we love sports so much is that we get tangible results. 

Other than the occasional soccer or boxing match … We have a winner. We have a loser.

That's the way the games work. But what about this game? This game the Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott played for 40 days trying to see which side would blink first.

I don't really know if there is a loser. Only will time tell, and it's really only going to be the Cowboys that would be on the losing end, if Zeke doesn't come close to justifying this six-year extension worth $90 million and FIFTY MILLION guaranteed.

But make no mistake, the Cowboys win, too. They get the best running back in the game just in time for the Giants game this week, and he didn't have to go to training camp and risk an injury. We'll see what kind of shape he's in, but I think he'll be ready to go for Sunday.

Yeah, the fans win as well. They get the best player on their favorite team right before the season starts.

How about the fantasy football players who went ahead and picked Zeke high in the draft just hoping he would come around in time? They won.

And even Tony Pollard is a winner here. He got to take first-team reps and shined bright, giving the team confidence in him that might not have happened in another scenario.

All of them can be considered winners here.

But no one wins this thing more than Zeke – and not just because he has $50 million now in his pocket.

Zeke knows he's the most talented player on this team. He knows the Cowboys need him to run this offense efficiently and he knows, maybe because Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said as much in the offseason, that he's "the straw that stirs the drink" for this team.

Knowing all that, he knew he didn't need to be getting $3 million per season this year. Now, us regular folks can laugh at that notion all we want to, but that's not the way the NFL business works. We know that. It's not about the actual dollar amount. But if you were the best in your field and 10 other people were getting paid more, you'd probably raise your hand as well.

And that's what Zeke did.

The Cowboys basically said they weren't interested in doing a deal right now with Zeke because they didn't feel like they had to.

Zeke made sure they had to.

The Cowboys also said they weren't interested in setting the running back market. But in the end, they had to, to get the deal done.

After three seasons, he's led the NFL in rushing two years and could've possibly had the most yards in 2017 had it not been for a six-game suspension, one that even Jerry Jones challenged the NFL Commissioner about.

That scenario, along with others, is one reason why it was somewhat head-scratching that Zeke would hold out on the Cowboys, knowing how much Jerry has supported his running back throughout his young career.

Still, I think Zeke made the right decision here. The Cowboys weren't going to press the issue on a contract right now and therefore he goes into his fourth season, knowing what the wear and tear will be on his body.

What happens if injuries start to pile up this year? What if there is a sign that he isn't the same back, just because he misses a few games? Does he still get a big payday at the end? Or do the Cowboys decide to go in a different and cheaper direction?

While Jason Garrett always says he doesn't live in a world of "hypothetical" situations, Zeke and his camp had to. They had to ask those questions because if they weren't asked now, they might not like the real answers down the road.

But this football team here in 2019 is a championship-caliber team. Everyone can see that the Cowboys have as much as talent right now as they've had in over a decade.

Does it mean they will advance to the Super Bowl or even the NFC Championship Game? Of course it doesn't. Nothing is guaranteed (other than Zeke's 50 million) in this situation.

Still, Zeke knew he had to strike right now to make his point.

And he made it, along with a few millions in his pocket as well.