3 realistic Ezekiel Elliott trade scenarios

By Vincent Frank
Oct 30, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs the ball against Philadelphia Eagles free safety Rodney McLeod (23) in the third quarter at AT&T Stadium. Dallas Cowboys won 29-23. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

To say that Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has not enjoyed a great 2020 NFL season would be an understatement. Much like the rest of his struggling squad, Elliott has not performed up to par.

The high-priced former All-Pro performer is averaging a career-low 3.9 yards per attempt. He’s also put up just 707 rushing yards in 11 games while fumbling at an alarming clip (six times).

A lot of people questioned Dallas when it handed Ezekiel Elliott a record-breaking six-year, $90 million extension back in September of 2019.

Running backs are not nearly as valued as other positions right now. That’s primarily true when compared to quarterbacks. Despite Elliott’s surface value to the Cowboys, his contract is a handcuff.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Cowboys, check out #DallasCowboys rumors, rankings, and news here.

Ezekiel Elliott contract

Look at Elliott’s cap hits over the next several seasons.

  • 2021: $13.7 million
  • 2022: $16.5 million
  • 2023: $15 million
  • 2024: $12.6 million
  • 2025: $15.4 million
  • 2026: $16.6 million

Dallas does have an out on the Ezekiel Elliott contract that would result in a mere $6.7 million dead cap hit following the 2022 season.

In comparison to the statistical decline we’ve seen from Elliott over the past couple years, and this is not great news.

Ezekiel Elliott stats

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott fumbles during NFL Week 6 against the Cardinals
Oct 19, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Arizona Cardinals strong safety Budda Baker (32) causes Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) to fumble in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2018: 1,434 rushing yards, 4.7 average, 77 receptions, 2,001 total yards, nine touchdowns
  • 2019: 1,357 rushing yards, 4.5 average, 54 receptions, 1,777 total yards, 14 touchdowns
  • 2020: 707 rushing yards, 3.9 average, 39 receptions, 963 total yards, seven touchdowns

Given the Cowboys’ cap issues and the need to either extend Dak Prescott or find another quarterback, there’s a chance the team looks to trade Ezekiel Elliott this coming offseason.

For Dallas, that’s magnified by the fact that 2019 fourth-round pick Tony Pollard has been extremely effective and could be a cheaper long-term alternative. Pollard has put up 928 total yards and is averaging 5.2 yards per rush during his young career.

If the Cowboys were to trade Ezekiel Elliott, the question then becomes what teams might show interest. How would a trade look in terms of compensation? We check in on that below.

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Ezekiel Elliott traded to the Chicago Bears

  • By now, it’s rather clear that Chicago will look to fire head coach Matt Nagy this coming offseason. He’s done very little to help the Bears’ rushing attack.
  • Regardless of who is under center for the Bears next season, improving on the league’s 31st-ranked rush offense needs to be a focus. Primarily, David Montgomery does not seem to be the answer.
  • Chicago could potentially take on Ezekiel Elliott and his bloated contract while drafting a young quarterback under a rookie deal. It makes too much sense.
  • As for the Cowboys, they could demand a player and pick in return. Cornerback is a need with former Pro Bowler Kyle Fuller being an option.

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Ezekiel Elliott traded to the Buccaneers

  • Imagine Tom Brady having Ezekiel Elliott in the same backfield as him as the six-time champion closes up shop on what will be a first-ballot Hall of Fame career.
  • For the Buccaneers, this seemingly makes too much sense. The combination of Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones has not got it done for a rushing attack that ranks in the bottom seven of the NFL.
  • The idea of Brady and Elliott teaming up with the likes of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and perhaps Antonio Brown would be all sorts of sexy.
  • In order for this to happen, Tampa would have to rid itself of a salary. Someone like guard Ali Marpet could be of interest to the Cowboys, too.

Related: Top NFL free agents of 2021

Ezekiel Elliott traded to the Chiefs

Imagine Ezekiel Elliott teaming up with Patrick Mahomes
Dec 15, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) looks to pass during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
  • On the surface, Kansas City doesn’t have anywhere near the cash under the salary cap to make this work. But after seeing the team hand out record extension after record extension, that might not be the case.
  • In fact, the defending champs could look to entice Dallas with all-everything safety Tyrann Mathieu. We know full well that the Cowboys have been looking for an upgrade in that area.
  • From Kansas City’s perspective, bringing in Elliott to team up with Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill would be akin to this being the “Great Show on Turf” maximized.