The first step towards an eventual holdout for Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot was taken Thursday.
Elliot, who is seeking a contract extension after shouldering a massive workload in his first three seasons in the NFL, was not on the plane to training camp carrying a majority of his teammates, according to an ESPN report — which cited unidentified league sources.
However, he could still show, but previous reports don’t suggest he will if a deal is not done.
Right now, though, Dallas will seemingly prioritize other players like quarterback Dak Prescott, who is set to be a free agent next summer, and aren’t rushing to work out a deal with Elliot, who still has two years left on his contract.
“Well, I think those are all a work in progress,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said in May. “Certainly we’ve got a couple years there with Zeke to get that done. We certainly want to get him done.
“He’s the straw, if you will, that stirs our drink. He’s a key part of what we’re about. Those things take time to get done. They don’t happen overnight. Certainly, he’s a priority in terms of ultimately getting him signed. There hasn’t really been a timetable put on this.”
The Cowboys don’t begin reporting to the Oxnard, California site until Friday morning with the first practice beginning Saturday.
Players do have to be present Friday in time for physicals and a conditioning test before they are considered late for camp and subject to a fine, ESPN noted.
Elliott, 23, has spent his entire career with the Cowboys after being selected fourth overall in the 2016 draft.
He’s slated to earn $3.9 million in 2019 and the team picked up the fifth-year option of his rookie contract last month, which will pay him $9.1 million for the 2020 season.
The All-Pro earned his second rushing title in three years after he recording 1,434 yards and six touchdowns on a league-high 304 carries last season. He added 77 receptions for three scores and 567 yards.