The notion that the Cowboys might re-sign Ezekiel Elliott sometime this offseason has been floated since his release last March. But a recent report from one Dallas insider threw water on this idea, showing it as more of a fan-driven hope than anything truly brewing within the organization.
In comments earlier this week with the NFL Network, reporter Jane Slater shared her findings from sources in the Cowboys' front office. Here are some of the key quotes from her report:
”Quite frankly, they’re just not talking about it.”
“It would require an injury to one of their running backs.”
“As much as I know a lot of guys in the locker room would love Ezekiel Elliott to come back, it just doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of smoke here.”
Elliott was cut a few months ago as a salary cap casualty after the worst season of his NFL career. Zeke’s per-carry average dropped below four yards for the first time in seven seasons and his overall effectiveness was clearly down. While Elliott was still a solid contributor in certain situations, Dallas could no longer justify paying him as an every-down franchise back.
Some have held out the hope that Elliott, after staying unemployed for a while, might consider coming back to the Cowboys at a much-reduced salary. He clearly maintains strong relationships with Dak Prescott and others, being spotted in clips throughout the offseason practicing with his former teammates. Prescott has been vocal about his desire to have Zeke back on the roster as well.
However, as Slater also mentioned in her report, the Cowboys are expressing confidence in their current setup at the position. In addition to using the franchise tag to keep Tony Pollard as their primary back, they’ve signed veteran Ronald Jones and drafted Deuce Vaughn. There are also returning prospects in Malik Davis and Rico Dowdle, plus undrafted rookie fullback Hunter Luepke who could be used as more than just a blocker.
Given all this, it would seem that the Cowboys are fully prepared to move on without Ezekiel Elliott. They will certainly miss his personality and star power on offense, but a bigger role for Tony Pollard and other younger options will hopefully make up the difference on the field. Unless some drastic happens that causes Dallas to pick up the phone, the idea of Zeke’s return appears to be a fantasy at best.