Cowboys release Ezekiel Elliott after seven seasons in Dallas

Elliott has four years remaining on a massive six-year, $90 million contract
Running back Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys have parted ways.

Elliott has spent all seven of his seasons in the NFL in Dallas, but he was released on Wednesday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones confirmed. The three-time Pro Bowl running back will be designated as a post-June 1 cut.

Elliott had a relatively down season in 2022, and became the secondary option behind Tony Pollard in the Cowboys’ rushing attack.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott looks on before the NFC divisional playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Jan. 12, 2019. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA Today Sports)

The 27-year-old is coming off career lows in rushing attempts, rushing yards and rushing average, but Dallas did previously express an interest in keeping Elliott with the team for 2023.

Jones released a statement Wednesday confirming the decision to move on from Elliott.

“We have mutually agreed with Zeke that the best decision for everyone is that he will be able to experience free agency, and we can increase our flexibility and options as well. This is one of the toughest parts of operating a team,” Jones said.

“Moments like this come, and extremely difficult decisions and choices are made. For the franchise. For me personally. For players too. We will always have a special place and love for Zeke and what he means to our Cowboys family, both as a person and a player. That will never change.”

Elliot did manage to account for 12 touchdowns this past season. He signed a six-year, $90 million extension in 2019, but has been on a decline ever since. A knee injury sidelined him for two games in 2022, and when he returned he wore a brace for the rest of the year.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott talks with quarterback Dak Prescott during a game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Nov. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

The roster move is expected to save the Cowboys more than $10 million, per Over the Cap.

Dallas placed the franchise tag on Pollard, guaranteeing him a one-year tender at $10.1 million.

Pollard suffered a season-ending injury in the divisional round playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers that required surgery to repair. He rushed for 1,007 yards last season and scored nine touchdowns.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott scores a touchdown against the Houston Texans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott scores a touchdown against the Houston Texans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Elliott is one of the best running backs in Cowboys history. He has racked up 8,262 rushing yards in his career, which places him third on the all-time list in rushing for the franchise. Elliott trails only Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett.

He is the league’s second-leading active rusher, behind Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans.

Elliott’s on-field time with the Cowboys had a bizarre conclusion. On the final play of Dallas’ divisional round playoff loss to the 49ers last season, Elliott snapped the ball to quarterback Dak Prescott during a desperate trick play that failed.
Elliot led the league in rushing yards per game in three consecutive seasons from 2016-2018. He also led the NFL in rushing yards twice in 2016 and 2018.
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