Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott could very well hold out of training camp in hopes of landing the richest contract for a player at his position in NFL history.
In the past, this type of move from a running back has proven futile. Just ask Le’Veon Bell.
As we noted in talking about the Melvin Gordon situation with the Los Angeles Chargers, running backs simply aren’t valued at a high clip in today’s pass-first NFL. It’s simple supply and demand.
No matter what these running backs and their agents might think, that’s the cold hard fact.
Elliott’s situation is complicated by a recent off-field incident and the Las Vegas Police Department investigating said issue.
It’s also complicated by advanced stats. Just take this piece of information from FiveThirtyEight suggesting that Mr. Elliott is not worthy of a huge contract.
According to data collected by the site, Elliott ranked 22nd among running backs in win probability added to close out a game last season. He found himself behind the likes of Wayne Gallman and Zach Zenner.
Why is this notable? One of the biggest assets for a top-end running back is the ability to close out games. Teams want to give backs the ball, move the sticks and run down the clock. Elliott was not good in that role last season.
Here’s a good example of this. The ageless Frank Gore ranked fourth among NFL running backs in this category last season. One of the biggest attributes of Mr. Gore during a Hall of Fame-worthy career has been the ability to get that tough yard. Elliott struggles in this area.
Are the Cowboys really willing to make Elliott the highest-paid running back in the NFL when he struggles doing one of the most important things asked of a back? It’s a reasonable question to ask.