Will Ezekiel Elliott play in six days? That may depend on whether the Cowboys and his agent can finalize a new contract today.
Appearing this morning on PFT Live, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports explained that the Cowboys hoped to get a deal done on Sunday to ensure that he'd be available for the full week of preparation in advance of the Week One game against the Giants. Elliott's camp likely sensed the urgency; they waited through most of the day to respond to the Cowboys' latest offer, contributing to the frustration the organization felt when Elliott's response showed less movement than the team would have liked.
The problem at this point, as Robinson explained it, isn't the dollars but the structure. And that's one of the problems, from the team's perspective, with the deal given last year by the Rams to running back Todd Gurley.
It's one thing to beat Gurley's new-money average of $14.375 million. It's quite another to match the terms regarding the vesting of guarantees.
Gurley's deal had full guarantees at signing to cover the first two years. After the first season, and within eight months after signing, the third year became fully guaranteed. After the second season, part of the fourth year becomes fully guaranteed. Also, much of the guarantees paid to Gurley have no offset language.
Elliott will have an easier time getting a higher APY in new money than he will getting the same structure, especially in light of the condition of Gurley's knee only one year removed from signing the new contract. The Rams definitely would not do that deal all over again; the Cowboys want to avoid the same situation.
They thought they would. They thought Elliott wouldn't clamor for a new contract until next year. Now, as the Cowboys close in on paying Elliott the money he wants, the real question is whether they'll give him the structure he needs.
If it doesn't happen in the next 24 hours, it will be hard to envision Elliott being ready to play by Sunday.