The big news in and around Dallas Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, California is not the return of All-Pro Travis Frederick or the debut of Kellen Moore’s new offense or any of the recently-signed free agents or recently-drafted rookies. It’s the absence of Ezekiel Elliott, who is reportedly holding out for a contract extension. 

The Cowboys have maintained repeatedly that Zeke is part of their plans and that they feel they have the financial wherewithal to sign him, even as they extend core pieces like Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones, and Jaylon Smith. But Elliott is a running back, and a heavily-used one at that, and he has had issues staying off the NFL‘s radar off the field; those factors will surely weigh on negotiations. 

Nevertheless, the Cowboys have submitted an extension offer to Elliott, per NFL Network’s Jane Slater. Elliott’s representatives, though, have not yet presented a counter. 

For his part, Jerry Jones is not worried about Elliott’s absence or his contract negotiations. (Yet.) 

The situation does not appear to be wearing on any of Elliott’s teammates yet, either. Unlike the situation with Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh last year, Elliott appears to have the support of some members of the offense. Dak Prescott has noted that he thinks Zeke should be paid, and Frederick — whom the Cowboys made the NFL’s highest-paid center when he signed his own deal — said he understands that Elliott’s absence is just the nature of the business. 

“To me, this game is a business,” Frederick said, per The Athletic. “Everybody has to treat it as such. I certainly hold no hard feelings to anybody that is trying to do that and get the business done and protect themselves and their family. For me, we are out here to work and we’re going to work with the guys that we have. That’s not a dig at anybody. That’s just how it works. Guys get hurt and you don’t have them for practice. Guys get sick and you don’t have them for practice, and some guys aren’t here because they are working through some of the business portions of it. You just work with what you have.”

Right now, the Cowboys do not have Elliott. Which means they have to work on other things. 

“I’m just optimistic by nature,” Jerry Jones. “But that’s very important here. We’ve got a great team. We’ve got a young team, a seasoned team for its age. We’ve got a lot of talent out there. We need to work on all the things we can do out there if you don’t have [Elliott] on fourth and 1. We need to work on that.”

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