Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggested Monday that his team can win a Super Bowl without Ezekiel Elliott. That should come as good news to fans, considering the two-time NFL rushing champion has shown no signs of intending to join his teammates anytime soon.
As Elliott’s contract holdout entered its second week, the Pro Bowl running back was headed to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, according to multiple media reports. That’s more than 1,200 miles from Oxnard, where Jones was being interviewed from Cowboys training camp.
Asked if Elliott was as significant to this team as Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith was to the 1990s Cowboys, Jones launched into what sounded suspiciously like what could be the team’s talking points in contract negotiations with Elliott.
“Of course, Emmitt had participated in a Super Bowl, being the first rushing champ — this is very important — first time ever a rushing champion was on a Super Bowl-winning team,” Jones told KTVT-TV in Dallas. “The point there is, you don’t have to have a rushing champion to win a Super Bowl.”
Maybe the Cowboys do, though. Their last three Super Bowl victories followed seasons in which Smith was the league’s leading rusher (1991, 1992 and 1995). The only other running back to lead the league in rushing and win a Super Bowl the same season was the Denver Broncos’ Terrell Davis in 1998.
The Cowboys drafted Elliott with the fourth overall pick in 2016. Since then, he’s rushed for 4,048 yards and 28 touchdowns in 868 carries. He still has two years remaining on his rookie contract but wants to be paid like one of the league’s top running backs.
Problem is, he’s got an owner who seems to think the team doesn’t necessarily need one of the league’s top running backs.
“One of the dilemmas at running back is that the league knows that you can win Super Bowls and not have the Emmitt Smith back there or not have Zeke back there,” Jones said. “Consequently, when we are looking at putting Zeke’s contract in place, we’ve got to realize that the ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl.
“And so you’ve got to do all of the things along with having Zeke that allow you to have other players so that you can win the Super Bowl. And that’s what we’re going through.”