The NFL has undergone a massive stylistic sea-change over the last dozen or so seasons, with the passing game taking on an increasingly important offensive role. The running game, meanwhile, has been correspondingly de-emphasized. As a result, running backs are not as valuable as they once were — at least when taken as a whole.
Yet top-tier running backs still have the ability to warp the game to their skillset. One of the most exciting young running backs in the league today is the Ezekiel Elliott. Here we take a closer look at Elliott’s NFL career so far, while also breaking down his contract situation and net worth, and investigating how he’s spent some of his massive earnings.
Ezekiel Elliott’s NFL career so far
The Cowboys drafted Elliott with the fourth pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. He was the very first running back taken in that year’s draft, with many analysts praising him as the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson entered the league in 2007. Commentators saw him as the perfect combination of athleticism and size, with above-average catching and blocking abilities.
Predictions about Elliott’s excellence proved true during his first year. In 322 rushing attempts, he racked up a whopping 1,631 yards — most in the entire league. Elliott also scored 15 touchdowns, which was third in the league. His performance earned Elliott a Pro Bowl selection, as well as First-team All-Pro honors.
Elliott’s second year in the NFL was a little rockier. He missed six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy as the result of domestic violence charges, and never quite got in the rhythm otherwise. He bounced back in the following two seasons, earning two more Pro Bowl selections and again leading the league in rushing yards in 2018, with 1,434.
Contracts and net worth
The Cowboys signed Ezekiel Elliott to a four-year rookie deal back in 2016. That deal was worth $24.9 million, with an additional signing bonus of $16.3 million.
In April 2019, the Cowboys exercised their option to pick up a fifth-year on Elliott’s contract. Elliott, by then considered one of the very best running backs in the game, wasn’t too happy about that move.
He protested by holding out during Dallas’ training camp, while making it clear to the team that he wanted a contract extension. In September 2019, the Cowboy’s granted his wish, signing Elliott to a six-year extension.
That deal — the biggest running back contract in the NFL — was worth a staggering $90 million, with a $7.5 million signing bonus (per Spotrac). The contract, which locks Elliott up through the 2026 season, has a guarantee of slightly over $50 million.
During the contract negotiation process, reports surfaced that Elliott already had an estimated net worth of $12 million. Less than a year later, that number likely hasn’t changed so much. Yet by the time his current contract has run its course — and barring any financial disasters on Elliott’s part — his net worth should be significantly higher, to say the least.
How Ezekiel Elliott spends his money
Throughout his career, Elliott was shown himself to be generous with his money. According to ESPN, after signing his initial contract with the Cowboys in 2016, Elliott’s first big purchase was a new home for his parents and two sisters. Later that year, in the midst of what ended up being one of the all-time greatest rookie running back seasons, Elliott showed his largesse once again.
This time the recipients of his generosity were the Cowboys’ offensive line. As a symbolic way of saying thanks for creating the space for him run, Elliott gave his offensive linemen matching John Deere utility vehicles. He’s also made some considerate charitable donations as well. After signing his massive new contract in 2019, Elliott immediately donated $100,000 to the Salvation Army in Dallas.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference