OXNARD, Calif. – To no surprise, the first question out of the box during Friday’s opening press conference asked about not only Ezekiel Elliott’s presence, but if he was considered late by Noon (Pacific time) in Oxnard.
“Well, he’s late,” owner Jerry Jones said about Elliott, who is the only player on the 90-man roster that did not report to training camp. “He’s a non-report. The (rest of the team) has reported. So, he’s late. But this is what we do. We’re not surprised. This is business as usual.”
Elliott’s absence likely relates to his frustration with not having a new contract. Although he has two years left on his deal, the running back ranks 10th in the league in his overall contract, despite leading the team in rushing two of the last three years.
Jones wouldn’t comment on whether Zeke would be fined by the Cowboys for not reporting to camp, but did confirm that the Collective Bargaining Agreement suggests that he would be subject to a fine if that’s the direction the Cowboys take.
“It provides for that,” Jones said. “I’ve not ever made it a practice of getting into the details of how we execute our agreements.”
Head coach Jason Garrett didn’t sound concerned about his starting running back not being here, but said he would continue to focus on the players that have reported.
“We expected all of our players to be here. Zeke is not here,” Garrett said. “Zeke is a really impactful guy. But this is a business. And in our business, that happens. But our focus is on the guys that are here.”
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones, the team’s director of player personnel, said the team has indeed had contract negotiations recently with Zeke’s representatives.
“This is the air we breathe,” Stephen Jones said. “There’s no surprises. We’ve been doing this for 30 years. Its part of the game. We’ll work through it. We’re just going to go to work and do what we do in terms of continuing to keep this team together.”
The Cowboys were also asked about the contract negotiations with Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper.
But Stephen Jones said there is no timetable in getting any of the deals done, but said history suggests it’s possible to get things done in camp.
“This is the time when we’ve done a lot of contracts,” Jones said, pointing out that Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick have had contracts finalized either at the start or during training camp.