Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott richest running back in history

BIG BONUS: In this October 2017 file photo, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) and head coach Jason Garrett come together before a game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. On Tuesday, Elliott signed a six-year $90 million contract making him the highest-paid running back in NFL history. Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service

DALLAS – And just like that, the drama of the summer is over.

Ezekiel Elliott is a holdout no more.

That contract, yeah, he’s got to be happy about that too.

That’s because Elliott and the Cowboys agreed to a long-term contract extension late Tuesday.

The deal is for $90 million over six years with a whopping $50 million guaranteed added on the two years remaining on his rookie deal, keeping him in a Cowboys uniform until at least 2026.

He will practice Wednesday and play against the New York Giants in the season opener.

This has been the plan all along. It just took some time to get here.

Elliott missed of all training camp and the preseason in a contract dispute, training alone in Cabo San Lucas.

A good indicator that things were getting close was Elliott flying back to Dallas-Fort Worth from Cabo Tuesday afternoon so he could be available to practice on Wednesday, if a deal did get done.

Upon arrival at DFW Airport, Elliott told a throng of reporters and cameras, “I’ve been ready.”

His agent, Rocky Arceneaux, acknowledged a deal was very close with the Cowboys.

“I think Zeke showed his commitment by coming back to Dallas,” Arceneaux said. “We didn’t come here not to do a deal. So I think he’s committed. Both sides are.”

Both parties had been progressing toward a deal since the weekend, though an issue regarding contract structure and backloaded money held things up.

Elliott wanted to surpass Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams as the league’s top paid running back.

He got that and more as the richest running back in NFL history.

Gurley got a four-year, $57.5 million extension before last season. It included a $21 million signing bonus, $45 million guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $14.375 million.

Elliott’s deal, which included a modest $7.5 million signing bonus, averages $15 million per season, the most ever for a running back, and includes a record $50 million in guaranteed money.

Add in the remaining two years on his rookie deal of $3.85 million in 2019 and $9.099 million in 2020, then Elliott’s total package is a whopping $102.9 million until 2026.

Elliott’s deal is second in history in terms of value and guarantee, trailing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who got a five-year, $105 million extension with $65 million in guarantees.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and vice president Stephen Jones are in New York to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday morning, so an official announcement or press conference may not come until Thursday.

But this was the goal since the Cowboys drafted Elliott with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 draft. They thought he was a generational-type back and wanted him long term as a foundational piece for the future.

Despite the diminished value for running backs across the league, Elliott was key to what the Cowboys wanted to do in their offense and the foundation of their success.

He quickly showed that, winning the NFL rushing title as a rookie in 2016 and again in 2018.

He set a Cowboys rookie record with 1,631 yards, which led the league, and 15 touchdowns in 15 games.

Elliott led the league in rushing in 2018 with 1,434 yards.

He led the league in yards per game in 2017 but missed out on the rushing title due to a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

Elliott’s 4,048 rushing yards are the most in the NFL since 2016 and last year he joined Herschel Walker as the only Cowboys running backs to have more than 1,000 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving in the same season.

Owner Jerry Jones expressed optimism of getting a deal done Tuesday morning on his radio show on KRLD-FM when he spoke of wanting Elliott on the field against the Giants.

It certainly was a change in tune from last week when he said he believed Elliott would miss the opener.

Time was of the essence.

“It’s Tuesday. You better be preparing with the people you have available to you,” Jones said. “We are preparing with the people we have now. It would be great if Zeke would be in that group. We will see how today goes, how tomorrow goes, how the ensuing hours pan out.”

“He should be fresh.”

Fresh and paid.