One of the bigger questions surrounding the Dallas Cowboys heading into the offseason is the status of RB Ezekiel Elliott. Since being drafted in 2016, Elliott has had a phenomenal career in Dallas. He has accumulated 10,598 all-purpose yards and scored 80 total touchdowns in his seven-year career with the Cowboys. However, he has statistically been declining the past few seasons. In 2022, he averaged just a mere 3.8 yards per carry. This will not cut it for a running back who had a base salary of $12.4 million this past season. Elliott is set to have a base salary of $10.9 million in 2023, and is under contract through 2026. However, his contract is set up in a manner that gives the Cowboys front office a potential out in the 2023 offseason.
Elliott has openly admitted that he has thought about his future in Dallas. He understands that many believe it would not be wise of the team to pay him the money he is currently set to make.
“I’ve definitely thought about it,” Elliott said, via The Dallas Morning News. “I want to be here. I don’t have a crystal ball; I can’t tell you the future. But I definitely want to be here.”
Since the Cowboys season came to a close in the divisional round of the playoffs, there have been several reports that would suggest that both Elliott and the Cowboys front office have mutual interest in bringing the veteran back at a discounted price. A report came out from ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Thursday that gave further insight on a potential pay cut scenario.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports the agents of Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott will "figure out his value at the combine" and then decide if they'll accept a restructured contract to stay with the Cowboys. pic.twitter.com/TArEKuqDBG— NFL Rumors (@nflrums) February 16, 2023
Former Dallas Cowboys player Emmitt Smith, arguably the best running back in NFL history, also opened up on the situation. He believes that the Dallas Cowboys should find a way to retain both Elliott and RB Tony Pollard.
Here is a quote that he gave to NBC Sports Pro Football Talk,
“I may franchise tag Pollard and I may go for a contract restructure with Zeke. But I’m keeping both, and the reason why is because we’ve got to get Pollard back healthy, and we need Zeke, and we need Malik as well. We need that three-headed monster right now to rotate. Malik gives us a chance to get Pollard time to get back healthy again.”
Despite several people close to the organization reportedly wanting to find a way to bring Elliott back to Dallas, it is time for the front office to let him go and head in a new direction.
Tony Pollard was arguably the most electric player on the Cowboys offense this past season. He had a career year, racking up 1,378 all purpose yards and 12 total touchdowns. Pollard is a pending free agent, and the team needs to make it a priority to bring him back. Pollard is just 25 years old, and has a lot of quality football ahead of him.
Keeping Elliott in Dallas would be the front office holding onto something that is the past. Elliott is undoubtedly a fan-favorite. He has brought many exciting plays and memories in his tenure in Dallas. However, any play which he is on the field instead of Pollard is a hindrance to the offense. Pollard has shown his ability to break any run open for a 50-yard gain. Elliott does not have this similar burst, and is lucky to reach the second level on his runs. Pollard also has a more reliable impact in the receiving game, with much better catching ability than Elliott. It would be better for the Cowboys to move on from Elliott, and make Pollard their clear RB1 of the future.