The deal includes $50 million in guaranteed money. The agreement was confirmed by the Cowboys.
Elliott returned to the Dallas area Tuesday and is expected to be on the practice field Wednesday with the Cowboys.
“I’ve been ready,” Elliott said, according to WFAA-TV in Dallas, as he walked past reporters and fans gathered Tuesday evening at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Agent Rocky Arceneaux, who was accompanying Elliott, told reporters that the two sides were “very, very close” to a deal, according to multiple accounts, and added: “They’re committed and we’re committed. That’s why we’re here.”
Elliott and Arceneaux quickly proceeded to a meeting with Cowboys officials and the deal was completed by Wednesday morning.
The $15 million average annual value of the extension makes Elliott, by that measure, the NFL’s highest-paid running back, just ahead of the Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley.
Gurley agreed last year to a four-year contract extension with the Rams worth $57.5 million, including $45 million in guaranteed money. Gurley’s contract has a potential maximum value of $60 million. Le’Veon Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million deal, including $35 million in guaranteed money, with the New York Jets in March as a free agent. Bell’s contract can be worth as much as $61 million all told.
Elliott, 24, has led the league in rushing in two of his three NFL seasons with the Cowboys. He ran for an NFL-best 1,434 yards last season. He had two seasons remaining on his original rookie contract with the Cowboys, including the fifth-year option previously exercised by the team. That deal pays Elliott $3.9 million for the upcoming 2019 season and $9 million for the 2020 season.
He had been holding out, seeking a new long-term contract. With the Cowboys facing the prospect of going into the regular season without the focal point of their offense, negotiations intensified over the long holiday weekend.
When he made his weekly appearance on a Dallas-area radio station Tuesday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the team was preparing to face the Giants with the players already on hand but was hopeful of getting the Elliott deal done.
“It will be great — will be and would be great — if before a short period of time passes that Zeke would be in that group,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan, before the agreement was officially in place. “But we’ll see how today goes. We’ll see how tomorrow goes. We’ll see how the ensuing hours pan out.”
Elliott had been training in Mexico; Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk helped Elliott to train recently while in Cabo San Lucas.
The Cowboys signed right tackle La’el Collins to a five-year, $50 million extension Tuesday and still must deal with the contract situations of quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper. Both are in line for lucrative new deals.
But now they have Elliott back in the fold and can focus on readying him for the matchup with the Giants as they seek to defend last season’s NFC East title. Cowboys players were off Tuesday and are scheduled to resume practicing Wednesday. The Cowboys will have to determine whether they can have Elliott ready for something approaching his normal workload Sunday after missing training camp and the preseason.
“I don’t want to get that far ahead of it,” Jones said during Tuesday’s radio appearance. “But I know him to be, just knowing him, would know him to be in great shape for any type workload. He should be fresh.”
Coach Jason Garrett had declined to specify to reporters Monday by which day Elliott would have to join the team this week to be ready to play Sunday. But Garrett suggested then that Elliott could move quickly through his preparations.
“Zeke is as capable as anybody I know,” Garrett said at Monday’s news conference. “He’s an experienced player. He’s been a really good player for us. He knows our system of football. I don’t think there’ll be a lot of learning there. He’s a smart guy. He’s an instinctive guy.”
The Cowboys face the Washington Redskins in Week 2 at FedEx Field.