What if Ezekiel Elliott Pulls a “Le’Veon Bell”?
The amount of control the players are starting to gain from the owners when it comes to contracts is baffling. I believe it has something to do with the NBA comparison. One look over the fence at players opting out of contracts and NFL players begin to feel they have more choice when it comes to reporting to camp and playing during the season. Take Le’Veon Bell for example. He held out the entire 2018 season and was rewarded handsomely with the freedom to choose his new team and a new 4-year 52.5 million dollar deal. Obviously, I have opinions on this and I will eventually share them. However, in the words of Arya Stark, “Not Today!”
Today, my focus is on Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys, who is currently mulling over whether to report to training camp or not. Zeke would like a new contract and is prepared to take matters into his own hands should the dollars not start flying in his direction. What does that mean for Dem Boyz? Well, it could result in Zeke not showing up for camp, preseason and possibly, part or all of the 2019 season. I mean, why not do it? Bell did it and received everything he wanted. The Cowboys’ Bell-Cow knows he puts fans in the stands and missing a few games may turn up the heat under Jerry Jones resulting in the desired new contract. For the sake of this argument, let’s say he does miss a few games: Who is the Back to step up in his absence?
The 128th overall pick is a clear highlight-reel in the return game but will his 6ft -209lbs frame be able to deal with the punishment of an every-down back? Sure, it’s exciting to see what happens when the ball is in his hands, but what happens when that small frame runs into a grown man such as Jon Bostic or Ryan Kerrigan on a consistent basis? Death is what will happen! Ok, maybe not death, but you get the idea. I can only see the former Memphis Tiger as a passing-down back in the 2019 season. However, I look forward to seeing this athletic talent on 3rd down and returns this year.
I’ll be honest with you, after watching tape on this guy, it was hard not to visualize a young Carlos Hyde. Explosive! I would love to see him taking snaps from Dak Prescott and leading this backfield. Unfortunately, his injury history is also reminiscent of Carlos Hyde. The former Buckeye has already experienced a knee injury on a “jog-through session” according to 247sports.com’s Patrick Murphy. The 218th overall pick will have to stay on the field to compete with Pollard and Jackson.
What leaped off of the screen for me while watching this former 2016 6th round pick was the 40-time of 4.37. The RB can burn. He showed flashes in a preseason game a few years back against the Los Angeles Rams but was plagued by injuries and bounced from the Cowboys to the Cleveland Browns, back to Cowboys to the Green Bay Packers, and back to the Cowboys again. If we’re talking about drive, this guy has plenty. Jackson is a Cowboys fan and hopes to pursue his dream of playing a full game for them in the regular season. Like the two backs I mentioned before him, Jackson is small. He’ll need to get his weight up to be a legitimate, long-term option.
The Cowboys pulled in this stable of backs without the intention of looking for a lead back. With such a dominant presence already leading the charge in Zeke, why look for the future? However, the time to start looking at the options is upon us. They should not wait until the lead back is out the door before looking for an alternative.
If I had to put my money on one of these three backs, I would have to go with Weber. He is exciting when on the field and can be a home-run hitting type of back. With Weber as the #1 having Jackson and Pollard splitting carries on third down, the transition may be rocky initially. However, with a few games under their belt with actual live reps, this may be a formidable trio.
There is also the option of looking at a trade partner. The Buffalo Bills may be looking to deal 31-year-old LeSean McCoy, and Dallas would be a great landing spot for the aging veteran. While averaging less than 4-yds per carry last season was not ideal, with a better line, Shady would definitely be able to hold it down until Zeke decides to show up for work.