Don’t scratch Ezekiel Elliott from the Dallas Cowboys’ starting lineup for Sunday against the New York Giants just yet.
Elliott and his agent, Rocky Arceneaux, left his holdout headquarters in Cabo San Lucas with the expectation that a contract extension with the Cowboys will be finalized before the Week 1 home game against the team’s NFC East rival.
Arceneaux told reporters at the DFW International Airport that a deal is “very close.”
“I think Zeke is showing he’s committed by coming back to Dallas,” Arceneaux said. “We didn’t come here not to do a deal. We’re talking. They’re committed and we’re committed. That’s why we are here.”
Initial chatter Tuesday indicated the sides were close to a deal for a $90 million, six-year extension that would tie Elliott to Dallas through 2026.
Elliott bolted for Mexico in July as the Cowboys boarded a team charter for Oxnard, Calif., site of their summertime training camp.
Elliott, 24, has two years remaining on his rookie contract and is scheduled to earn $3,853,000 in 2019 and $9,099,000 in 2020. The two-time NFL rushing champion is targeting a deal that would make him the highest-paid player at the position.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Dallas’ five-year contract extension with right tackle La’el Collins that was made official on Tuesday freed up almost $6 million in salary-cap space. Some of that could be earmarked for Elliott, although the Cowboys have a queue of skill-position talent waiting to be paid.
Quarterback Dak Prescott, who did not hold out, is reportedly chasing a contract worth $35 million or more per season.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper is in the final year of his deal, and the receiver market continues to escalate. Saints star Michael Thomas signed a five-year, $100 million deal in August, and Falcons All-Pro Julio Jones is in line to raise the bar higher in his ongoing negotiations with Atlanta.