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The Giants should be watching Ezekiel Elliott’s contract situation

Josina Anderson reports that the RB will not play without a new contract

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Minicamp Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

After a rough start to the 2019 season, the New York Giants might have finally caught a legitimate break. Josina Anderson of ESPN is reporting that (per a source), Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott won’t play in 2019 without a new contract.

Anderson quickly added the context that both the Cowboys and Elliott’s representation want to get a deal done, with Elliott sitting out the season regarded as “unlikely” at the moment.

Given that the Cowboys ran DeMarco Murray into the ground to the tune of 499 touches in the final year of his rookie contract (and he was never the same player again), Elliott’s desire to have long-term security makes sense.

Complicating matters is the fact that both Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper also need new contracts and Elliott has his eye set on being the highest paid running back in the NFL.

Raptor’s Thoughts: This is a storyline the Giants and Giants’ fans should keep a close eye.

In the immediate future, if Elliott’s holdout stretches into the regular season it could radically change the dynamics of the Giants’ opening game. Elliott is commonly seen as the engine that powers the Cowboys’ offense, which seemingly gives him leverage in a prolonged stand-off. If he is not on the field week one, and the Dallas offense struggles, that could be an ideal opportunity for the Giants to get off to a fast start in 2019.

However, this could also be a test case for whether or not a star running back is vital to an offense.

Le’Veon Bell sat out the 2018 season, only to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers start 2017 third round selection James Connor and suffer no drop-off in rushing production. Bell ultimately got his contract, and Elliott will likely get paid by someone as well. However, if Elliott sits out and Alfred Morris, Tony Pollard (fourth round, 2019), or Mike Weber (seventh round, 2019) are able to give the Cowboys enough on the ground to make defenses pay for focusing on Amari Cooper, that will likely change the calculus.

Looking down the road a couple years, Elliott’s deal — as well as those of Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell, and eventually Leonard Fournette and Kareem Hunt — will all factor in to Saquon Barkley’s future. As a second-overall pick, his fifth-year option will be average salary of the top players at his position. Likewise, the top contracts for a running back will likely form the baseline for Barkley’s contract demands in 2022.

How the stand-off between Elliott and the Cowboys ultimately plays out will definitely have an impact on the Giants in both the near and long terms.