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Favorite Ezekiel Elliott moments: Remembering Zeke and his time with the Cowboys

We all knew this day was coming for the Cowboys and fans, but it’s still hard to say goodbye sometimes.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Ezekiel Elliott is no longer a member of the Dallas Cowboys after news broke that the team is releasing their 27 year old running back. It feels like only yesterday when Zeke shook up Cowboys Nation by becoming the fourth overall pick in the 2016 draft. Feelings were mixed about whether a running back, even as talented as Elliott, warranted the use of such high draft capital. After rushing for over 1,300 yards in three of his first four seasons, Elliott emerged as one of the NFL’s best running backs. The Cowboys front office rewarded him with a six-year, $90 million contract extension in 2019.

But things haven’t been so rosy since. Like it does so often with NFL running backs, the wear and tear started catching up to him as his yards per game dropped in every additional season he played. Every season. The once sprightly 21-year-old who was producing 108.7 yards per game his rookie season dropped all the way down to 58.4 yards per game last year. Combined with the explosiveness of Tony Pollard, it has forced the Cowboys' hand to finally part ways with one of their favorite guys.

Football is a business, and the Cowboys understand that Elliott is not producing at a level that justifies continuing to pay him $10+ million per year (see annual base salary below shown in blue, figures courtesy of Spotrac). The team designated him a post-June 1st cut which means the Cowboys will endure an $11.8 million dead money hit (from all the signing bonus/restructure money already paid to him, in red below); however, it will be spread over two years. Dallas will eat $5.8 million in dead money this year (in orange below) and then another $6 million in dead money will count against the books in 2024 (yellow).

Over his seven-year career, Elliott has earned over $70 million which is a remarkable feat for a running back in this day in age. NFL teams don’t value the position and it’s easy for them to move on from one to another. So, even though the Cowboys are moving on from Elliott, their love for Zeke is pretty astounding.

While we understand the business side of football can be brutal at times, we want to take this time to honor this locker room favorite. Let’s leave on a positive note and roll through some of Elliott’s best plays as a member of the Cowboys.

The juice...

The hurdles...

The screens...

A little fun in the kettle...

It’s closing time...

Thank you for everything, Zeke.

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