Monday, January 23, 2023

Ezekiel Elliott gives a brutally honest look at the future of the Cowboys

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Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has big questions about his future.

As the Cowboys enter the 2023 offseason, the question is whether or not Elliott will return to Dallas for an eighth season. The experienced running back is technically under contract until the 2025 season. However, there is a potential out of contract that could see the Cowboys sack Elliott with a $11.8 million dead cap this offseason.

Elliott — aware of the question about his future in Dallas — gave a brutally candid opinion on whether or not he’ll be back with the Cowboys in 2023 after the team’s playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

above Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

“Cowboys pushing back on Ezekiel Elliott when he comes back in 2023: ‘I want to be here. I don’t have a crystal ball and I can’t predict the future. But I definitely want to be here.’”

Elliott ended up playing the entire second half of the Cowboys’ 19-12 loss after Tony Pollard was badly injured near the end of the first half. Pollard – a 2022 Pro Bowler – ended up suffering a broken fibula that will require a recovery time of four to five months.

Despite the opportunity to take over the game with Pollard, Elliott failed, rushing just 26 yards on 10 carries. As ESPN’s Todd Archer pointed out, Elliott’s latest game continued a trend in which the former Pro Bowl running back simply lacked explosive power.

“Without Pollard, the Cowboys had to rely on Ezekiel Elliott and rookie Malik Davis,” Archer said. “Elliott hasn’t averaged 4 yards per carry in the last five games and has been a career-low 3.8 yards per carry this season, playing with a knee brace for much of the year to protect a sprained medial collateral ligament. Davis had 161 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries in the regular season.”

It’s clear the Dallas offense took a major hit when arguably their best offensive playmaker was sidelined for the remainder of the game.

The Pollard injury is significant because it changes how the Cowboys view the value of Elliott’s progression. His salary cap for the 2023 season is obviously a big concern considering he’s falling sharply. His cap hit of $16.7 million for the 2023 season ranks second among all running backs.

If the Cowboys can restructure Elliott’s contract, they will likely bring him back. While Pollard should be healthy by the time training camp resumes, he is recovering from a serious injury and has never proven himself as a full-time defender. Throughout his career, Pollard has carried the ball over 15 times in a single game, only twice in his career.

Additionally, Pollard isn’t a short yardage and goalline back — Elliott is. Team owner Jerry Jones previously emphasized Elliott’s value during his two-game midseason absence, shortly after Pollard’s 131-yard streak with three touchdowns in a win over the Chicago Bears.

“There’s no argument,” Jones said in October. Z’eke’s ability to punish, Zeke’s ability to deliver, Zeke’s ability in what he does for us in pass protection, and quite frankly Zake’s ability to make big plays are there and we’re going to go where Zeke goes. He is so important to our success.”

Elliott may be unsure about his future at Dallas, but expects the Cowboys to look to bring their star back for another season as part of a restructured deal.

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