ARLINGTON, Texas – Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones didn't have a specific update on Ezekiel Elliott's contract talks Saturday night as the running back's holdout enters its fourth week.
But with only two weeks until the Sept. 8 season opener against the New York Giants, Jones remains "optimistic that we can get Zeke's deal done."
"I don't know that. I don't know that," Jones cautioned. "But sure, I don't mean to be trite, but the whole premise is based upon getting everybody under contract playing, so that's what we're trying to do here."
Elliott does have two years remaining on his current rookie contract, but it's no secret he wants a new deal that reflects his standing as a two-time NFL rushing champ. He has been on the Reserve/Did Not Report list since training camp began in late July and continues to train away from the team.
Jones and the Cowboys' front office have maintained their desire to reach new deals with Elliott and fellow offensive Pro Bowlers Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. But they have stood firm that there also must be enough salary cap flexibility to field a competitive roster, top to bottom.
Elliott did not have a preseason carry last year and led the league with 1,434 rushing yards. Although he hasn't appeared in this year's camp, he had full attendance in this year's voluntary offseason program, where much of the offense's installation took place. Digesting all of that once he does return is not a concern for Jones.
"I don't want to sound like it's not important for him to be here. I think it is important for him to be here or we wouldn't be having everybody be here, everybody getting some work in," Jones said after the Cowboys' 34-0 preseason win over the Texans. "Everything about this is important. Everybody does understand it. It's just a question of seeing if it works, but you know, we're going to play football one way or the other. That's the way it works.
"When you don't have everybody under contract playing, then you're dealing with a blowout or you're dealing with a flat tire someplace and you try to get it fixed. But you've got to play, and you do play."
The goal, of course, is to play the Giants on Sept. 8 with Elliott in uniform. Jones believes that's still attainable.