Unless you are living under a rock you have heard about Ezekiel Elliot’s ongoing feud with Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys. Zeke wants to be paid as the top RB in football, or at least in that range, while Jerry just does not value the position that much. Jerry went on the record to say that teams do not need a NFL rushing champion to win the Super Bowl, which he was obviously right in saying. The last NFL Rushing champ to win the Super Bowl was Terrell Davis way back in the 98-99 season. For 20 straight years, the team that has won the Super Bowl did not have the rushing champion that year. In my mind, that speaks volumes about the leverage that Zeke has.
The other, less publicized, RB holdout is Melvin Gordon from the LA Chargers. This holdout is less publicized because the Chargers do not attract the attention that the Cowboys do. The Chargers have also proven that they can win games without Gordon in the backfield. They beat the Chiefs last year without him. Austin Ekeler is an extremely capable backup and the way the Chargers performed without Gordon last year shows me that they are willing to let this string along into the regular season. Gordon has requested a trade if the Chargers will not give him the money he wants, but nothing has come of that yet.
Reason Number 1
The Market for the Position is Just Not There- LeVeon Bell tried this just last year. He held out to be the highest paid RB in football, and the Steelers were not having it, kind of. The steelers offered Bell a contract worth $70 Million, but there was only $10 Million guaranteed. Bell obviously did not take them on this offer as he wanted more guaranteed money. So he sat out the entire year, losing $850K per game. Once free agency started, Bell signed a contract with the Jets for 4 years worth $52.5 Million, and $27 Million guaranteed at signing. Even after missing a year, he still fell $5 Million short of Todd Gurley’s $57.5 Million contract. Most teams will not shell out more than $30 million in guarantees for a running back. The market for that position is just not there. Running back by committees are a thing in the NFL now and most teams have no problem using them. The last 2 Super Bowl Champions have used RBBCs in the Eagles and Patriots. This is QB league and that will not change anytime soon!
Reason Number 2
Current Contract Terms– Ezekiel Elliot still has 2 years left under team control! GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE ZEKE! That means the Cowboys could not pay him and he would be forced to sit for 2 whole seasons, or play under his current deal. That gives him almost no leverage! Gordon at the very least has only 1 year left on his rookie deal making him an Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of this season. Zeke will not hit free agency until after the 2020-2021 season! He has a whole season before he can even think about having any leverage.
Reason Number 3
Teams Do Not Need a Star RB to Win the Super Bowl– I hate to break it to everyone who believes Zeke has all the leverage but they just do not need him as much as they need other pieces of that team. Last year at the bye week the Cowboys were 3-4 and needed to do something on offense. They went out and traded a 1st round draft pick for WR Amari Cooper. In Cooper’s debut in Week 9 they got blown out by the Titans to fall to 3-5, in third place in the NFC East. From Week 10 on the Cowboys offense looked like one of the best in football and they won 7 out of 8 to finish 10-6 and win the NFC East. They had Zeke and they were still 3-4 before Cooper’s arrival. After Cooper joined the team the Cowboys were 7-2 and they looked like a real contender in the NFC. Cooper’s talent took this Cowboys team over the top, not Zeke’s. In Gordon’s case last year was all you needed to see. Gordon had a great season in 2018, but the Chargers still went 4-0 in games he did not play! One of those wins including the season defining win over the Chiefs in Kansas City. Last year the Patriots won the Super Bowl using 3 or 4 RBs every single game. They have a RBBC consisting of Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, and even mixing in Cordarelle Patterson from time to time. No stars, four RBs who know their role, Super Bowl victory. That is a recipe for success, not a star RB.
Reason Number 4
Off the Field Issues– Since he has joined the league Zeke has had issues off the field in almost every offseason. He has had domestic dispute issues, problems with security in Vegas, and it causes an unnecessary headache for teams. Players who cause headaches like this and are constantly in the news for the wrong reasons are not worth the money that these guys are asking for. Now Gordon has not had any off the field issues so this is obviously directed more towards Zeke, but either way, until he can go a full calendar year without any legal issues, do not pay this man. A guy with a chance of being suspended is never worth that kind of money.
Reason Number 5
NFL Salary Cap– The NFL has a salary cap of $188.2 Million for the 2019 season. That means that there is $188.2 Million to be divided between 53 players. Now there is the luxury tax, which allows teams to pass this salary cap. However, the higher above the salary cap a team goes, the more they have to pay in luxury taxes. Most teams do what they can to keep their luxury tax as low as possible, or even avoid it completely. Now in the Cowboys situation, Dak and Amari will both be looking for a new contract pretty soon. The Cowboys 2019 salary is already at almost $193 Million. Paying Zeke would obviously increase that number meaning the Cowboys would have to pay out the ass into the luxury tax. Jerry Jones is a business man, not a fuckin idiot. They have $61 Million invested in the O-line which is a huge reason for the success of Zeke over the last 3 years. Other positions are more valuable to a team’s success and they all need to be paid as well. Now the Chargers have most of their $193 Million invested in their QB (one of the best of all time), their WRs (a stud WR core), and their DL (one of the best in football). This led to an enormously successful 2018 season for the Chargers and they believe they can sustain that success without paying out the ass for Gordon. Games are won and lost in many different fashions, but it is usually not a RB who wins or loses a game. If a RB has a shitty game, the blame goes on the OL for not opening up holes. Other positions are worth paying before you pay a RB.
Now all of this will seem real fucking stupid if these two teams jump out to 0-3 or 1-4 starts or some shit like that. However, in today’s NFL I do not see any RB having that kind of impact on a team, especially teams with capable QBs.