This was all very predictable. From the moment that Ezekiel Elliott signed his long-term extension with the Dallas Cowboys in the summer of 2019, the writing was on the wall for the 2023 offseason. Take a look at the calendar and realize that our journey has brought us where it was always going to.
The reason that this offseason is significant for Elliott’s standing with the Cowboys is because it is finally financially feasible to release him. Dallas can get out of the deal relatively easily now, and with Zeke’s decline in production, the math all leads to the same general conclusion.
It appears that this is becoming more and more understood in NFL circles.
One NFL insider believes ‘it would not be surprising’ to see the Cowboys cut Ezekiel Elliott
Even though the Cowboys are talked about so often on the national scale, there are often stories or details about them that miss the general cut because people focus on the low-hanging fruit. It is for this reason that so many people seem to finally be catching up to the Ezekiel Elliott decision facing America’s Team this spring.
This past week was the NFL combine which provided an opportunity for information to pass from party to party. Sunday morning, ESPN’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler shared some of that at the worldwide leader, and the former came away from Indianapolis believing that “it would not be surprising” to see the Cowboys cut Zeke.
The Dallas Cowboys’ offense could look a lot different in 2023. They’d save $4.8 million on the cap by releasing running back Ezekiel Elliott ($10.9 million if they designate him as a post-June 1 cut). It would not be surprising to see them make that move, as Elliott has no more guaranteed money left on his contract. The Cowboys also seem likely to let tight end Dalton Schultz — who was their franchise player last year — leave in free agency. But they would like to bring back running back Tony Pollard and could use the franchise tag to do so. They will be looking to add explosive playmakers to an offense that really didn’t have any last season outside of Pollard and receiver CeeDee Lamb (who is another candidate for an offseason extension).
As noted this is not exactly a shocking development, and neither is the tidbit about the team likely watching tight end Dalton Schultz walk in free agency. The final portion of Graziano’s write-up here notes that the Cowboys want to add “explosive playmakers” (which came out by way of a strange report last week) and the reality is that Ezekiel Elliott doesn’t fall into that category right now.
What has made the team releasing Elliott feel unlikely has always been how the front office feels about him. It is no secret that Elliott is a favorite of the Cowboys brain trust, so it should also come as no surprise that when Jerry Jones spoke on Friday night that he indicated that the team wants to keep Elliott around for 2023.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones indicated he wants Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott both back in 2023, “ doing the best things they do.” pic.twitter.com/aHVZthXnKb— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) March 4, 2023
It appears that there will at least be some sort of continuity for the Cowboys backfield in 2023 as the team is reportedly ready to place the franchise tag on Tony Pollard by Tuesday’s deadline, if they do not reach a long-term deal with him before then. While Elliott is certainly a valued member of the Cowboys locker room in terms of explosiveness, Pollard is clearly the superior back.
This conversation has been in the ether for almost four years. We are about a week and a half from potentially having some sort of resolution at long last.
The clock is ticking.