Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson is defending Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout, siding with the running back by saying the Cowboys need to pay Elliott now because “they’re running him to death.”
Elliott, selected fourth overall by the Cowboys in the 2016 draft, officially became a holdout when he didn’t report for the opening of Dallas’ training camp in Oxnard, California.
It’s not clear how long Elliott’s holdout will last, but ESPN reported Tuesday that Elliott’s representatives told the Cowboys he won’t play this season without a new contract. Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones later in the day said the the ultimatum is “news to us and it certainly doesn’t change anything,” while also describing Dallas’ offer to Elliott as “very generous.”
Despite the ongoing negotiations, Dickerson, who had two holdouts with two NFL teams during his 11-season career, believes the two sides will reach an agreement after speaking to Elliott’s agent Rocky Arceneaux.
“I don’t think it’s that bad,” Dickerson said Tuesday (via The Dallas Morning News). “I don’t know, I talked to his agent. I think they will get something done. I just feel like Zeke is the best player on that football team, and he has a window as a running back. You can cut it however you want it, but he has a window, let’s just be for real. He does. Running backs are not like quarterbacks. This isn’t Jerry’s fault or even Zeke’s fault. This is [NFLPA executive director] DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA’s fault.”
Dickerson said he believes Elliott will miss the majority of the preseason, but he “think(s)” the running back will be ready for Week 1.
Dickerson compared Elliott’s holdout to his own. Dickerson’s first holdout came with the Rams in 1985, when he sat out 47 days, fighting for a new contract. He reported after missing two regular-season games. His second came in 1990 with the Colts, missing the first five games. He was the highest-paid running back in the league at that time but wanted more than his $1.4 million salary.
“I outplayed my deal,” Dickerson said. “We were different back in those days. They had your ass tied down. I outplayed my deal in my second year and then you know what the GM told me? I need to prove myself more. I had [2,105] yards and I need to prove myself more. What the hell is that about? Zeke has to get his money now, you see that they’re running him to death.”
Elliott last season earned his second rushing title in three years with 1,434 yards on a league-high 304 carries with six touchdowns last season, while adding 77 receptions for 567 yards with three touchdowns.
His is set to be paid $3.9 million for 2019, and the team last month picked up the fifth-year option of his rookie contract that will pay him $9.1 million for 2020.
“He has to do what he has to do, now,” Dickerson said. “He’s got to do it now, the time is now.”