As reported by Clarence Hill at the Fort Worth Star Telegram, sources have revealed after seven years, the Dallas Cowboys “are set to part ways” with Ezekiel Elliott. While news of his impending release isn’t surprising, it wasn’t exactly expected either.
Throughout the offseason the Cowboys have implied their intensions of asking their former star running back to take a pay cut. And Elliott has signaled he’s open to the idea. But how significant of a cut would be required to justify his roster spot was up for debate, and may have contributed to the two sides making a clean break today.
According to reports, the Dallas Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott are parting ways, leaving the position in flux going forward.
Tony Pollard clearly supplanted Zeke in 2022 as the lead back in Dallas. The Cowboys applied their franchise tag to Pollard earlier in the month, ensuring their top rusher stays in Dallas for at least one more season.
At a price of $10.1 million, Pollard is clearly going to carry the load in 2023 (even if Zeke stayed). But without the durable veteran as RB2, the Dallas Cowboys suddenly find themselves with a need at the running back position.
They could wait until free agency cools and add an inexpensive veteran to work behind Pollard. Having a bruiser to take on damage sustained in short yardage situations would help preserve the big play ability of Pollard. As such, it’s a recommended move if the Cowboys hope to lean on Pollard’s explosiveness again in 2023.
The Dallas Cowboys could also have their sights set on the draft. The 2023 NFL Draft has one of the deeper running back classes seen in years. Not only does it feature top-end skill in Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs, but it has depth that should offer viable players deep into the third day.
If Elliott is indeed released like Hill has suggested, the Dallas Cowboys will undoubtedly be in the hunt for a new rookie runner to add to the stable.
The final domino which could fall should this come to pass is the long-term status of Tony Pollard. Perhaps the Cowboys did not learn their lesson from Zeke and will be open to signing another running back to a multi-year second contract. They may just be clearing old money in order to make room for new money.
Regardless, if Zeke is done in Dallas, the Cowboys will add new blood to the RB room this offseason. Expect them to use the draft – especially if no long-term deal is made with Pollard.
How early will they draft running back? The sky is the limit and we cannot rule out the first round. The Dallas Cowboys have shown a willingness to depart from conventional wisdom and if they continue to plug holes prior to the draft, they may justify to themselves another first round running back.