It doesn’t really mean anything in the overall scheme of things, but the Cowboys are tangentially connected to three players who show up on Bleacher Report’s list of “one possible disappointing player from each team”. They looked at all 32 teams and picked one player who could be disappointing in the 2021 season. Even though the Cowboys are just one team, two players who have recent history with Dallas were the picks for other teams.
For the Cowboys, that possible disappointing player was Ezekiel Elliott. As we’ve noted many times here, Zeke’s production has been on a downward trajectory over the past few years. When your production is going down, but your contract is still an inordinately big one for your position, disappointing is a label that will be thrown around.
The bad news is that Elliot has endured a lot of wear and tear as a pro. He has carried the ball 1,413 times in five seasons while catching 241 passes. He’s also led the league in rushing attempts twice. The reality is that Elliott’s 2020 performance—with and without Prescott—is likely an accurate indication of where he is in his career.
Elliott can still be an above-average running back. However, above-average doesn’t quite justify the $13.7 million cap hit he’s scheduled to carry in 2021.
Nothing there is inaccurate, but they also note, as we have a few times, that Elliott seems to be on a mission this offseason to fix his issues. Those around the Cowboys have talked about how good Zeke looks this offseason, and that he is quicker in his cuts and footwork. He is also focused in as he has decided to blow off the media on a regular basis.
With Dak Prescott back, and with his offensive line supposedly healthy, this season will be a huge indicator as to where Zeke is headed. If he can reverse his recent downward trend, his future could be that of a Hall of Fame running back. If it continues going down, his future in Dallas could be limited. His contract has a legitimate out for the Cowboys after the 2022 season.
There are two other “Cowboys” who show up on this list. One is Robert Quinn for the Bears. Quinn had a huge 2019 season for the Cowboys (11.5 sacks) and he parlayed that into a large five-year deal with the Bears. Last year, he had two sacks and 16 QB pressures, not exactly the production they were hoping for, and Quinn is now 31 years old. Looks like the Cowboys made the right decision to let him go.
The other player is Cameron Erving. He had an injury-plagued season with the Cowboys last year as he filled in at tackle with five starts, but wasn’t overly impressive. He signed a two-year deal with the Panthers and will be protecting Sam Darnold this season.
As for the rest of the NFC East, the most disappointing player prospects are: WR Kadarius Toney (Giants), OT Andre Dillard (Eagles), and OT Charles Leno (Football Team).