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Dallas Cowboys will likely cut ties with Ezekiel Elliott next season, no matter how well he plays in 2022

Jason Burgos
dallas cowboys, ezekiel elliott
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A new report suggests the Dallas Cowboys will probably end their relationship with long-time running back Ezekiel Elliott after this season, even if he has a stellar showing in 2022.

It seems like ages ago now, but it really wasn’t that long ago when Elliott was one of the most dominant forces on the ground in the NFL. From his rookie season in 2016, up until 2019, “Zeke” was the heart of the Cowboys’ offense in the formative years of Dak Prescott’s development as their franchise quarterback.

While he is still a high-level talent, injuries and the wear and tear of playing the position in the NFL have taken away the unique explosiveness Elliott once had at 6 feet tall and weighing just shy of 230 pounds. Heading into the 2022 season, there is hope in Dallas that the three-time Pro Bowler can recapture the dominance he had when he ran for 1,434 yards in 2018 and 1,357 in 2019. However, no matter what he does this season, it is likely to be his last in a Cowboys uniform.

Related: Dallas Cowboys schedule: Dak Prescott show continues on Aug. 20 against Chargers

Ezekiel Elliott’s non-guaranteed salary in 2023 will end his tenure with Dallas Cowboys

dallas cowboys, ezekiel elliott
Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, The Athletic Cowboys beat writer Bob Sturm broke down why his declining stats in recent years and his massive price tag for 2023 could force the organization to end their relationship with the player they took with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.

  • Ezekiel Elliott stats (2021): 237 rushes, 1,002 yards, 47 catches, 287 yards, 12 total TDs

“We talked a year ago about the pivotal year in 2021 for Ezekiel Elliott while stating that there was no way the Cowboys can get rid of him before the 2022 season. Both were true. His 2021 was nearly identical in many ways to his 2020. He just lacks the explosion he possessed a long time back. His rushing yards per game have fallen every year of his career. His yards per game receiving have fallen every year since 2018.

“He is still on the poster of the marketing materials, but I have a very difficult time seeing Zeke back in 2023 unless something happens that never happens in the NFL — a running back finds explosion again after it being gone for a few years. His cap number in 2023 is not guaranteed and will be about $17 million and while it is always possible the team tries a modified deal as they did with DeMarcus Lawrence, I do not see it. I think this is his last year as a Cowboy.”

If Elliott had a major bounce-back year in 2022, he is unlikely to take a major pay cut to return to Dallas next season. Especially with the life span of running backs being so short in the NFL. If he were to have another year of decline, he might be willing to return at a bargain rate, but at that point, the Cowboys might be better served using that roster spot on younger talent.

Either way, Elliott’s days in Big-D seem numbered.