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Ezekiel Elliott will be suspended for the first six games of the 2017 NFL season, according to a statement from the league on Friday.
The suspension comes after the NFL’s year-long investigation into allegations of domestic violence against Elliott made by an ex-girlfriend and other off-field incidents. Elliott denied the domestic-violence allegations and last September the Columbus City Attorney’s office they would not pursue charges in the case due to “conflicting and inconsistent information.”
But the league’s investigation is a separate matter, and in the letter to Elliott informing him of the suspension the NFL’s Special Counsel for Conduct Todd Jones said that advisors and experts hired by the league “were of the view that there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against Ms. Thompson on multiple occasions during the week of July 16, 2016.”
Not only will the suspension force Elliott to miss the start of the season, it could also potentially cost him a lot of money.
According to a report from ESPN’s Todd Archer, the suspension will mean Elliott will have to repay a portion of his signing bonus that could add up to over $1.4 million.
In addition to losing his base-salary pay, the guarantees in Elliott’s $24.956 million deal will be voided. He received a signing bonus of $16.350 million and got the final deferred installment of the bonus in March. Once he misses games, he will have to pay back some of the signing-bonus money. For each game missed, Elliott will have to repay about $240,000.
As Archer notes, the suspension also voids some of his guaranteed money for upcoming seasons, meaning that if he were to suffer a career-ending injury, he would no longer be entitled to the money if the Cowboys were to release him.
Elliott is expected to appeal the decision. He has three business days to file notice of appeal, after which a hearing would be held within ten days.
The Cowboys season begins on September 10 against the New York Giants.