The Dallas Cowboys did what they needed to do when it came to veteran running back Ezekiel Elliott this offseason. The contract they gave the running back in 2019, which even at the time was criticized by some as being extravagant for a running back, had become even more burdensome given Elliott’s continuing slide in production. The calls for the team to use Tony Pollard grew year after year until this past year when Pollard became the lead back based on production. That pretty much sealed the deal on the Cowboys parting ways with Elliott.
Dallas released Elliott back in the middle of March and the running back has yet to find a new home. The new NFL just doesn’t value running backs, and Elliott’s tread on the tire combined with the production decline have relegated him to backup status, whether he realizes yet or not.
The longer Elliott stays on the market, the more the idea of his return to Dallas becomes a talking point. Dallas has only signed Ronald Jones as a replacement along with drafting Deuce Vaughn. They also have Malik Davis and Rico Dowdle already on the roster.
For a Cowboys team that already had plenty of hesitation about featuring [Tony] Pollard for more than 30 snaps per game, bringing back [Ezekiel] Elliott on a cheaper deal would provide security at one of the team’s thinnest positions. Pollard is still recovering from the fractured left fibula he suffered during the postseason, so if the Cowboys don’t want to rush him back into the lineup in September, Elliott’s ability to pass protect and run effectively between the tackles would be a plus for coach Mike McCarthy. If Elliott — who ran for 876 yards and 12 TDs last season — is not going to land a deal for more than $5 million somewhere else, why not stay home in Dallas?
The interesting nugget there is Barnwell pegging $5 million a year as some kind of ceiling for a deal. The Cowboys can easily get out of deals with Jones (around $1 million), Dowdle (around $1 million) and Davis (just under $900,000). We’ll count Deuce Vaughn in a different category since his role will be as change of pace/gadget/passing game specialist.
So Cowboys fans, what’s your take? Would you re-sign Elliott for $5 million? $4 million? The vet minimum? Or is there no price you would pay, and would rather go with what Dallas has already got? Hit the comments and let us know.