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Passing-game role makes Ezekiel Elliott even more valuable

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Ezekiel Elliott should ask the Cowboys for a long-term deal before Dallas decides to overuse its star running back again.

To the chagrin of Cowboys fans and fantasy owners who simply want Ezekiel Elliott to continue to show up and play without hesitation, I’ve got more to say about a guy who should consider taking a stand for a second contract before his current employer physically chews him up and spits him out.

Beyond Elliott’s value in the running game, where he gained 1,434 yards on 304 attempts, Elliott added a whopping 77 receptions last year, for another 567 yards. That’s 381 touches, and 2,001 yards from scrimmage.

Elliott had 58 total receptions in his first two NFL seasons. His 77 catches put him in a tie for 22nd in the league last year, with Odell Beckham Jr.

There’s significant value in that kind of production in the running and passing game; indeed, he accounted for 36.3 percent of the team’s entire offensive output. So if he’s going to take 380-plus touches, he needs to get paid accordingly. And if the team isn’t going to pay him accordingly voluntarily, Elliott needs to force the issue.

Complain all you want, when your objective is to ensure that he helps your favorite team, boosts your fantasy performance, or otherwise adequately entertains you. But he’s the one taking the poundings that will affect his quality of life in the long run, and he’s the one that keeps America’s Team currently relevant to a nation. If the team isn’t going to get him properly paid not that he’s eligible for a new deal, Elliott needs to use the devices available to him.

Don’t give me the “he signed a contract” routine, Old School Football Guy. It was a contract of adhesion (look it up), with no opportunity to negotiate more dollars than his draft slot dictated. The current system, which protects teams from draft busts who would suck away millions, fails to properly reward the men who should have gotten the big contracts that, due to fear that some of those big contracts won’t be earned, currently go to no one.

Also, there are two contracts that control the relationship: The contract between the player and the team, and the contract between the union and the league. Elliott has rights under the broader contract that are independent of his individual contract, and that allow him to technically violate the terms of his own deal. By taking advantage of those rights, he can try to leverage the Cowboys into doing the right thing, before he ends up being the next guy who finally makes it to free agency with bald tires and far less money in the bank than he deserves.