FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones likes to say that deadlines make deals, but when it comes to Ezekiel Elliott, he does not see the approaching Sept. 8 regular-season opener as a deadline.
“We have to be prepared to play without any given player,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Wednesday, alluding to injuries and suspensions. “We may very well play without a player that’s not coming in on his contract. We’ll play and play well.”
The Cowboys have said they wanted to sign Elliott, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper to long-term contract extensions, but negotiations with all three have gone slowly. Last week, executive vice president Stephen Jones expressed confidence on The Fan that a deal with Elliott could be reached before the season.
Jerry Jones went so far as to see the positive of Elliott missing games, at least early in the season.
“We’ve got a marathon here,” Jerry Jones said. “We want Zeke when we get to the playoffs. We want Zeke when we’re in the dog days of this season. … A fresh Zeke, if we got to the end, would be great.”
As for Elliott’s off-the-field miSSTeps, including one that led to a six-game suspension in 2017, Jones said those are not a factor in the negotiations.
“I’m very comfortable with everything off the field for Zeke,” Jones said.
The Cowboys concluded training camp practices Tuesday and begin prep Monday in earnest for their opener against the New York Giants. With a strong possibility of Elliott not being on hand, the Cowboys have been impressed with rookie Tony Pollard and also have veteran Alfred Morris.
“Listen, we’re preparing for the season and you know we’re going to play with what we got — and what we got is a damn good back in Tony Pollard,” said right guard Zack Martin, who should return to practice next week after missing time with a back injury. “Obviously you want him [Elliott] out here, but we are preparing to get ready for Week 1.”