Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is in the middle of a holdout as he looks to secure a long-term deal with the team, but owner Jerry Jones appeared to be bracing for a future without his leading rusher Monday.
Jones was asked in an interview with CBS Dallas-Fort Worth about the comparisons between Elliott and Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith. Jones made clear that a rushing champion wasn’t necessarily needed to win a Super Bowl and that Smith became the first one to do it when he did in 1993.
“The point there is, you don't have to have a rushing champion to win a Super Bowl,” he said. “… Emmitt was the first one to do it. That's one of the dilemmas at running back is that the league knows that you can win Super Bowls and not have the Emmitt Smith back there or not have Zeke back there.”
According to CBS Sports, Jones has been in a similar situation with a franchise running back before. Smith held out during the start of the 1993 season and when Dallas lost the first two games, Jones budged and re-signed Smith to a four-year, $13.6 million deal. At the time, he was the highest-paid running back in the sport.
Elliott has been one of the most dynamic running backs since entering the league, earning two Pro Bowl and one All-Pro selection since 2016. He led the league in rushing last season with 1,434 yards. It’s the second time in three seasons he has led the league in rushing.
It’s unclear how far apart the two sides are on reaching a new deal. But it appears Jones is willing to play the long game and drag his feet to a potential new deal.