It looks like the Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott have made a final decision about a pay cut.
As Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News reported Monday, Jan. 23, Elliott is “ready” to take a pay cut to stay with the Cowboys, according to a source familiar with his deliberations.
“The running back is willing to accept a pay cut this offseason as he recognizes that a reduced salary can better fit him into the franchise’s plans, a person familiar with Elliott’s mind told The Dallas Morning Monday afternoon News,” Gehlken said. “He is currently reported to be making a salary of $10.9 million in 2023.”
The 27-year-old running back is expected to have the second-highest cap hit of any player at his position in the league in the 2023 season with $16.7 million.
It’s clear that while Elliott is loved by the franchise, there are two main reasons a contract reshuffle is needed – his production is declining and the Cowboys are hoping to re-sign free agent Tony Pollard.
While Elliott remains the workhorse of the backfield, he’s also the less dynamic one between him and Pollard. Pollard, 25, was just named to his first Pro Bowl after leading the Cowboys with 1,007 yards in rushing and 39 passes for 371 yards and three touchdowns.
However, Pollard suffered a serious fractured fibula injury during the Cowboys’ 19-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round of the playoffs. The injury means a lengthy recovery for Pollard, who could take three months to fully recover from the injury.
That makes Elliott’s return even more important considering Pollard is recovering from a serious injury and has never proven himself as a full-time return player.
Elliott expressed his desire to return to Dallas while speaking to reporters after the playoff loss.
“I’ve definitely thought about it,” Elliott said. “I want to be here. I don’t have a crystal ball; I can’t tell you the future. But I definitely want to be there.”
The seven-year veteran is in the middle of a six-year, $90 million contract extension he signed in 2019. Technically, he has four years and $50 million left on his contract, which runs through the 2026 season. However, Dallas is able to pull away from Elliott this offseason by just absorbing an $11.9 million dead cap hit by releasing him.
Given all of this, it’s hard to imagine the Cowboys moving away from Elliott if they can restructure his deal — which he’s fully prepared to pursue in Dallas.
As noted by Gehlken, Elliott’s desire to “come to the table” regarding a return and a deal reshuffle is key to a return with the Cowboys.
“While negotiating financial terms can be a process, Elliott’s desire to come to the table is a significant step toward an NFL eighth season in Dallas,” Gehklen said. “It is believed that the Cowboys are also interested in keeping Elliott because of what he brings on and off the field.”
Barring one unexpected development, both sides should be able to work toward an agreement that would see the running-back veteran return to Dallas for another season.