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Dallas Cowboys release Ezekiel Elliott seven years after selecting him fourth overall in NFL Draft

Seven years ago, the Dallas Cowboys selected Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. There have been just three tailbacks selected in the first round since, with Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, and Saquon Barkley being the only others.

The biggest reason why is that running backs don’t exactly have a shelf life of a decade-plus, like many other positions that can be had with top picks.

We’re seeing proof of that today, as the Cowboys have decided to release Elliott from the team, making him available for any of the other 31 NFL teams to sign as a free agent.

Elliott has begun slowing down in recent years, finishing with a career-low 3.8 yards per carry in 2022 while failing to top the 1,000-yard mark.

More so, this move is all about saving cap space, with the Cowboys saving $10.9 million by letting the 27-year-old walk. It also likely didn’t help that the Cowboys are also set to pay Pro Bowl running back Tony Pollard $10.09 million under the franchise tag this season.

Instead of coach Mike McCarthy being able to continue feeding Elliott next season as he looks to integrate more of a run-heavy scoring approach, he’ll have to see if Pollard is ready to take on an even bigger workload.

Pollard has never had more than 193 carries in a single season, meanwhile, Elliott has never had fewer than 231 in a single season. He’s what we call a bellcow back, only now Zeke’s steam may be running out.

Related: Top NFL free agents of 2023: Ranking the best players available from 1-400

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