Stephen Jones: Re-Signing Zeke Is A Priority

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FRISCO, Texas – For a team that has several big-time contracts to address, Ezekiel Elliott tends to land on the back burner when the conversation turns toward extensions.

That's understandable, given his status as a first-round pick. The Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option on Elliott's rookie deal last week, which means he's under contract for two more seasons.

To hear it from chief operating officer Stephen Jones, though, it'd be a mistake to think Elliott isn't a priority for the Cowboys in the long-term.

"He's the straw, if you will, that stirs our drink. He's a key part of what we're about," Jones said in appearance on the "Pro Football Talk Live" podcast on Thursday.

There's been talk about extending Elliott's deal since the end of the 2018 season, when he piled up 1,434 rushing yards to go along with 77 catches for another 567 yards. Even as a top 5 draft pick, playing on a $25 million deal, it's easy to argue Elliott is one of the league's most undervalued running backs – especially with comparable talents like Todd Gurley and Le'Veon Bell playing on $57 million and $52 million contracts, respectively.

Jones acknowledged as much back in February, when he said that Gurley's contract with the Los Angeles Rams provided a guideline for negotiations with Elliott.

"We certainly saw what Gurley got paid, and we know that's probably where it starts, and we'll go from there," he said at the NFL Combine.

It remains to be seen what that means about a timetable. As previously noted, the Cowboys have several pressing matters on their agenda. Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and Byron Jones are all angling for pay days, and they all have just one season remaining on their contracts, rather than Elliott's two.

But Jones was sure to make it clear: the Cowboys haven't forgotten about their All-Pro running back.

"Certainly, he's a priority in terms of ultimately getting him signed," he said. "But there hasn't really been a timetable put on this."

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