Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott is coming off a career-worst season that saw him fail to hit the 1,000-total yard plateau for the first time in his career.
Elliott’s performance late in the regular season and in the playoffs was especially concerning. In two postseason games, the three-time Pro Bowler tallied 53 rushing yards on 23 attempts.
Even before these struggles, reports suggested that the 2022 season would be Elliott’s last with the Cowboys. They have a young running back in Tony Pollard who outperformed Elliott. Finances play a role here, too.
One day after their loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL Divisional Playoffs, and there’s new information on Elliott’s status in Big D moving forward.
Michael Gehlken of The Dallas Morning News reported Monday that Elliott is willing to accept a pay cut in order to remain with the Cowboys. The former first-round pick also told reporters after Sunday’s loss that he wants to keep his career with the ‘Boys going.
“I have definitely thought about it. I want to be here. I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t tell you the future. But I definitely want to be here,” Elliott on his future with the Cowboys.
- Ezekiel Elliott contract: 6 years, $90 million w/ $16.72 million cap hit in 2023
If the Cowboys were to release Elliott with a post-June 1 designation, they would save nearly $11 million against the 2023 salary cap. Right now, Dallas finds itself less than $6 million under the projected salary cap without a ton of potential outs.
Ezekiel Elliott’s regression and future with the Dallas Cowboys
From 2016-19, Elliott was among the NFL’s best running backs. That four-year span saw him average nearly 1,800 total yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging 5.2 yards per touch. He simply has not been the same player since.
Over the past three seasons, Elliott is averaging nearly a yard less per touch and less than 1,200 total yards.
Finances aside, the Cowboys might simply decide that a more dynamic-young running back would work out better with the aforementioned Pollard. They also have a decision to make on Pollard with the youngster set to hit free agency in March.
A recent report suggests that the franchise tag is on the table for Pollard. That would cost north of $10 million against the cap in 2023, making an Elliott return less likely.
The veteran’s close to this past season adds another layer to that belief. Ezekiel Elliott averaged a mere two yards per rush on 50 attempts over the final four games, playoffs included. That’s just ugly.