Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott's contract dispute could cost him millions: Here's why

Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott’s push for a new contract could lead to some significant financial penalties in the short term, including the loss of part or all of his 2019 salary.

Elliott, who is entering the fourth season of his rookie contract with the Cowboys, informed the franchise through representatives that he will not play this season without an agreement in place for a new deal, ESPN reported. Under the current contract’s terms, the 24-year-old star is due to earn $3.85 million for the 2019 season and roughly $9.1 million for the 2020 season.

The Cowboys will fine Elliott $40,000 for each day of training camp he misses. He stands to lose roughly $226,000 per game if the holdout stretches into the regular season.

Elliott is the latest of several top NFL running backs who have held out of training camp or regular season games amid a contract battle. Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has yet to report to training camp as he seeks a lucrative extension, and former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell missed the entire 2019 season, forfeiting $14 million in pay, in a similar holdout.

Unlike his fellow running backs, Elliott is seeking a new contract with two years remaining on his current deal. Gordon’s contract expires after the 2019 season.

Dallas Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott (21) evades pressure from Cincinnati Bengals' Dre Kirkpatrick (27) and Vontaze Burfict (55) in as Elliott carries the ball in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Arlington, Texas.

A two-time NFL rushing champion, Elliott has been the focus point of the Cowboys offense since entering the NFL as a first-round pick in 2016. However, Elliott has also been involved in several off-field incidents, including a confrontation with a bouncer during the offseason that triggered an NFL investigation and a six-game suspension for personal conduct policy violations in 2017.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expressed confidence this week that the team would resolve its contract dispute with Elliott before the regular season starts. The franchise is also working to reach deals with quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper in the coming weeks.


“Just know that like so many things, it’ll happen. It’ll happen,” Jones said, according to NFL.com. “There literally is no concern on my part at all about any time frame. That’ll happen. The results are too good for them and too good for the Cowboys. Think about it now. The results are too good for them and too good for the Cowboys. That always happens when it’s that good for both of us.”