The time of Ezekiel Elliott with the Dallas Cowboys is coming to a close as the team is letting him go, even though he had four years left on his six-year, $90 million contract signed in 2019, as reported by NFL Media.
Elliott was widely considered to be the least successful starting running back in the NFL during the past season, with the lowest yards per carry (3.8), tackles avoided (32), and percentage of runs that went for 10 or more yards (7.4%). Reports suggest the move will be completed after June 1, providing the Cowboys with $10.9 million in salary cap relief, while leaving $5.82 million in dead money on the current year’s cap. The remaining $64.76 million of his contract was not secured, with no guarantee of salary.
Jerry Jones declared after his release of Elliott from the Cowboys that he was one of the most remarkable running backs in the team’s history. Ranking third in the Cowboys’ all-time records for rushing yards (8,262), Elliott’s seven-season career included four times of rushing for 1,000 yards, ten times of scoring rushing touchdowns, and three Pro Bowl appearances.
Jerry Jones statement on Zeke Elliott release. pic.twitter.com/Qy0IDd0RZ3
— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) March 15, 2023
After discussing the situation with Zeke, we have come to a consensus that it would be beneficial for everyone if he can explore his free agency opportunities, while we retain our flexibility and options. These decisions are never easy to make, but we believe this is the right course of action,” Jones said.
Elliot has been the top rusher in the NFL for three straight years (2016-2018) and has led the league in yards gained on the ground twice (2016, 2018). Unfortunately, his per game stats have fallen each season due to the high number of touches he has taken on, with an overall average of only 58.4 rushing yards per game and 3.8 yards per carry in 2022.
The departure of Elliott opens the door for Tony Pollard to become the Cowboys’ primary running back. Pollard was the top runner in the league when it came to yards per touch (5.9) in 2019, having gained 1,007 yards and scoring nine times.
Potential landing spots
The Dallas Cowboys may be able to bring back Elliott, albeit at a renegotiated contract. He could then work as a complementary running back to Pollard and be used primarily in the red zone. With a contract that is more cost-effective and doesn’t hit the cap too hard, Elliott could be a valuable asset to the Cowboys.
If Ezekiel Elliott still believes he has the ability to be a top running back in the NFL, he doesn’t have to look far for a chance to prove it. The Houston Texans have Damion Pierce as their starter, however, Elliott could get plenty of touches. The Texans were far from successful in rushing stats last season, finishing near the bottom in yards per game, rushing touchdowns, and yards per carry. By joining Houston, Elliott would add an element of stability to the offense and provide a much-needed boost for their young quarterback.
The Cincinnati Bengals were significantly impacted by the loss of Samaje Perine as their power back. Fortunately, Elliott could potentially fill that void to accompany Joe Mixon, providing a go-to option when the team needs to gain yards on third-and-short and the short-yardage end zone play. Moreover, this solution would likely come at an affordable cost for the Bengals.