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What happens next in the Ezekiel Elliott case?

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  • By Austin Knoblauch NFL.com
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Ezekiel Elliott's suspension was formally reinstated Thursday, but what does that mean for the Dallas Cowboys and their star running back? With the Cowboys in the middle of their bye week, there's still a chance Elliott will continue to play the rest of the 2017 season.

Here's a breakdown of the two primary scenarios that could happen next in the Elliott case, according to Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane Sports Law program:

What happens next in the Ezekiel Elliott case?


Most likely scenario: The NFL Players Association will refile its lawsuit to have Elliott's six-game suspension dissolved.

If it refiles in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York or in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, the NFLPA almost certainly will make a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction request in an effort to allow Elliott to not miss a game.

Another option: The NFLPA and Elliott could request a rehearing or hearing en banc (panel hearing) with the 5th Circuit.

What this means: If granted a TRO in district court, Elliott's suspension would be put on hold again and he'd be eligible to play Week 7 (Oct. 22) against the San Francisco 49ers. If he gets a preliminary injunction, he would likely play the rest of the 2017 season.

If a TRO or PI decision isn't issued before Week 7 and he could miss a game or games before being allowed to play again. The court also could deny a request and keep him suspended.

"It's possible [to get something done during the bye week]," Feldman said Thursday on NFL Network's TNF First Look. "[If] they asked for emergency relief, just like they did in Texas and they could get a hearing quickly. Again it's an uphill battle but it's possible to get that ruling in eight days."

Feldman called it a "longshot" for Elliott to be granted a rehearing with the 5th Circuit.

Unlikely scenario: Legal teams for Elliott and the NFLPA do not refile the case.

What this would mean: Elliott would miss the Cowboys' next six games and wouldn't be eligible to play again for the Cowboys until Nov. 30.

Why this probably won't happen: Although the 5th Circuit ruled 2-1 in favor of the NFL, the majority's decision centered primarily on the timing of the NFLPA's filing, which came before a decision was made in Elliott's suspension arbitration hearing. With an amended complaint, there's a chance the NFLPA and Elliott could win on the merits of their case. Elliott's lawyer and the NFLPA stated are reviewing their legal options.

For now, Elliott is officially suspended. But there's still a chance he won't miss a game this season as the case makes its way through the courts.

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