The Dallas Cowboys have been searching for that next championship for some time now. There have been dark days and there have been times where they thought they were close but didn't get the job done. Over the last few seasons, they hit the draft lottery in finding a starting quarterback and a starting running back in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. This duo along with the Cowboys offensive line has made Dallas an offense people have to worry about at all times. The great thing for the Cowboys over the last few seasons is they have not had to pay Elliott or Prescott. Well, the time is come for both to get paid. Elliott is holding out so far and Prescott is in camp. Some seem to think whether one shows up or not makes a difference, but essentially it doesn't. What makes more of a difference is the level of importance of each player to the organization. If the Cowboys are looking at the direction of the team and what's more important to them winning, the correct decision would be to pay Ezekiel Elliott first.
While that train of thought defies conventional wisdom in a pass-oriented NFL, the Cowboys are more of a throwback team in the NFL. The key to all they do is the running game. Sure, the Cowboys have been blessed with a good offensive line to block for Elliott, but a running back still has to be able to read blocks and make plays out there. Elliott has been doing that and then some in the running game over his time in the NFL. The only season he did not get over 1400 yards rushing was in 2017 and that was the season he got suspended for some games. And that season, he ran for 983 yards in only ten games played. Elliott is a threat each and ever time he touches the football and he draws attention in the gameplan from opponents each and every week. With the attention he draws, linebackers are closer to the line of scrimmage, safeties inch down in the box a little because of the threat of Elliott. When that happens, windows are created for Dak Prescott to have easier passes to complete.
Dak is a solid NFL quarterback and no one is taking that away from him, but the jury is still out on if he can carry a team for stretches of games if he needed to. The main focus of the Cowboys offense has been the running game and that could affect some of the numbers Dak puts up, but over his time there, his stats have directly been impacted by Elliott as evidenced by the statistics over his career. When Elliott was out for suspension for six games in 2017, Dak struggled to throw the football. In those six games, he only threw for five touchdown passes while throwing seven interceptions. Dak is talented and works well with Zeke, but without him the question is still out if he can carry his team. As of right now, the answer would definitely be no.
When money decisions come around for a team, everyone wants to look at the position. In this instance, you have a running back with his timeclock clicking towards 30 and a quarterback that excels in the win/loss category. Both affect the win/loss column but the offense is run through Elliott and there are still some question marks about Dak on the field. For the sake of Dallas, they better hope they can pay both of them, but in reality if you have to lose one, then it may as well be the one less responsible for their success.