FA Recap: Goodbye to Zeke; But Other Vets Staying

FRISCO, Texas – The first day of free agency around the NFL saw plenty of action from other teams.

As we’ve grown to expect, the Cowboys weren’t big players on the first day, but that’s mainly because they did some work on Tuesday in re-signing both Leighton Vander Esch and Donovan Wilson, along with a trade that added veteran CB Stephon Gilmore.

But there was some big news on Wednesday involving their own veteran players.

·      The biggest move on Wednesday, perhaps even in the entire NFL, was the official release of RB Ezekiel Elliott. The seven-year veteran is one of the most accomplished runners in Cowboys history, ranking third all-time with 8,262 yards. The Cowboys made the move for salary-cap reasons, making him a Post-June 1-cut, meaning the $11 million they will save won’t be available until June 1.

·      Jerry Jones issued a statement on Zeke’s release, calling it a mutual agreement to part ways in an effort to let Elliott sign with another team in free agency. Jones called it an “extremely difficult decision” to release Zeke, whom Jones said “will always have a special place” to the Cowboys family.

·      While one great player is leaving the team, another one is staying put for at least one more season. Tyron Smith agreed to a restructured contract for the 2023 season that considerably lowers his base salary of over $13 million. But if he hits certain playing-time incentives, he could actually make more than that. It’ll be interesting to see how the tackle position shakes out with Smith, Tyler Smith and Terence Steele all back in the fold, along with some other young tackles and maybe even more coming with the draft.

·      Veteran defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence also has reworked contract. The Cowboys lowered his cap charge by nearly $9 million by moving some money around. Lawrence did not have his contract extended, but the Cowboys increased his cap charge in 2024 by more than $20 million.

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