The Dallas Cowboys are set to part ways with running back Ezekiel Elliott, a former two-time NFL rushing champ and the third-leading rusher in franchise history. AMANDA MCCOY [email protected]
The Ezekiel Elliott era appears to be over in Dallas. Per a source close to the situation, the Cowboys are set to part ways with the two-time NFL rushing champ and the running back is preparing to start fresh with a new team. The move could come as soon as Wednesday afternoon when the league’s 2023 calendar officially begins at 3 p.m. and teams are required to be under the salary cap. Elliott’s future has been in doubt since the end of the 2022 season.
Elliott, who came to the Cowboys as the No. 4 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, is set to count $16.4 million against the 2023 salary cap with a non guaranteed $10.4 million base salary. After rushing for a career-low 876 yards and averaging a career-low 3.9 yards per carry, while watching Tony Pollard surpass him as the team’s primary running back, a pay cut or release was inevitable. And when the Cowboys gave Pollard, the franchise tag of $10.1 million, ballooning the salary for the running back room to an NFL-record high $27.68 million in 2023, this day of reckoning was at hand. While owner Jerry Jones said at the NFL Combine last month that he would like to find away continue the with Elliott and Pollard at running back in 2023, finding a number suitable for both sides proved to be a bridge too far. Cutting Elliott saves the Cowboys $4.86 million. If they designate him a post-June 1 cut, they would save $10.9 million. After rushing for more than 1,000 yards in three of his first four seasons, including two rushing titles, Elliott has only surpassed that number once in the past three seasons.
His decline came after he signed a six-year, $90 million contract in 2019, thus has causing the narrative about Elliott’s effort and play that belied his value to the franchise as a leader. The guarantees ended in Elliott’s contract after last season, forcing him to enter the 2022 season with his future hanging over his head. After playing through a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, Elliott missed two games in 2022 after suffering a hyperextension of the same knee. The running back termed the injury torn medial collateral ligament. Elliott played the final 10 games of the season with a brace on the knee. He didn’t need offseason surgery and will start anew healthy in 2023 with another team.
Elliott ends his Cowboys career with 8,262 rushing yards and 68 rushing touchdowns and 80 total touchdowns, ranking third in franchise history in all three categories behind Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett. The decision with Elliott puts the Cowboys squarely in the market for a running back in the draft and free agency with Pollard on the hook in 2023 on a one-year franchise tag and 2022 undrafted rookie Malik Davis as the only other running back on the roster.