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.
#Cowboys Top 10 Plays of the Regular Season: Number 9— Dem Boyz Nation (@DemBoyzNation) January 13, 2017
Ezekiel Elliott 60 yard TD run vs the #Bengals#FinishThisFight #CowboysNation pic.twitter.com/ChHBQHRWdL
sonofthebronx: Ezekiel Elliott 55 yard touchdown run ESPN Monday Night Football: Lions at C… https://t.co/ocjz01iUAO pic.twitter.com/6H6nKUJPv1— FanSportsClips (@FanSportsClips) December 27, 2016
That leap @ezekielelliott flew over that defender ✈️@dallascowboys 27-20 @eagles pic.twitter.com/SNGDSrlBdz— NFL UK (@NFLUK) November 12, 2018
Zeke practiced hurdling last week, per Dak. Translated to Cowboys-Lions.— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) October 24, 2022
Dak: "He didn’t jump over him but he did the whole slow feet stutter & I was like 'I bet he jumps a guy this week.' Sure enough, it just happened. It’s impressive, a guy in year 7."pic.twitter.com/zPyl3dum2N
#Cowboys Top 10 Plays of the Regular Season: Number 8— Dem Boyz Nation (@DemBoyzNation) January 13, 2017
Ezekiel Elliott hurdle vs the Bears#FinishThisFight #CowboysNation pic.twitter.com/tPIS3Cvm6L
#Cowboys Top 10 Plays of the Regular Season: Number 5— Dem Boyz Nation (@DemBoyzNation) January 14, 2017
Ezekiel Elliott 88 yard td catch and run vs the Steelers#FinishThisFight pic.twitter.com/uJvgwNxW0W
.@EzekielElliott tanzt zu seinem 3⃣. Touchdown gegen die @49ers – und ihr wart live dabei auf @ProSiebenMAXX! #ranNFL #DALvsSF pic.twitter.com/y7hjcAKMnO— NFL Deutschland (@NFLDeutschland) October 24, 2017
Here is the screen pass to Ezekiel Elliot for the #Cowboys against the #Lions. This play design has been used before, the interior of the offensive line get into the second level to block #DallasCowboys #DETvDAL pic.twitter.com/1VoKPOWwHP— Joel (@JoelBishopFB) October 2, 2018
A little fun in the kettle...
Ezekiel Elliott really jumped in the salvation army kettle after the TDpic.twitter.com/a7nKbtV1t0— Rob Lopez (@r0bato) December 19, 2016
Ezekiel Elliott really put Dak Prescott in the Salvation Army kettle#DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/O4ZlY763Uj— Fanatics View (@fanaticsview) November 23, 2018
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott faked a jump into the Salvation Army red kettle following his game-winning touchdown Sunday vs. Texans. Elliott: “I’m not trying to get fined again. Maybe Christmas (Eve).” NFL docked Elliott $13,261 for last week’s celebration. pic.twitter.com/90oppSR5n0— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) December 11, 2022
Ezekiel Elliott celebrates with @SalvationArmyUS kettlepic.twitter.com/eLRwumaCQd— Last Night's Game (@LastNights_Game) December 5, 2022
It’s closing time...
#Cowboys Top 10 Plays of the Regular Season: Number 1— Dem Boyz Nation (@DemBoyzNation) January 15, 2017
Ezekiel Elliott game winning TD run vs the Steelers#FinishThisFight #CowboysNation pic.twitter.com/WUhtS5zDqp
Thank you for everything, Zeke.