Ezekiel Elliott is still the feature running back for the Dallas Cowboys. However, it remains to be seen if his future plans beyond the upcoming season. Elliott has four years left on his massive six-year, $90million contract. However, the Cowboys have the option to release the star running back next offseason.
Dallas would have to pay $11.86 million in dead caps by cutting Elliott. However, it could avoid the rest of the running back’s contract that runs through 2026. The Athletic’s Bob Sturz lists Elliott as the Cowboys player who will be playing in a “massive prove it” season in 2022. Sturm stated that Elliott will be leaving Dallas before the 2023 season, adding “I think this is his final year as Cowboy.”
Sturm, August 18, 2022 wrote that they had discussed Ezekiel Elliott’s pivotal year in 2021 and stated that the Cowboys could not get rid of him before 2022. Both were true. His 2021 was almost identical to his 2020 in many ways. His explosion is gone. In every year since 2018, his rushing yards per play have declined. Since 2018, his yards per game received have decreased every year.
“He is still on the poster of the marketing materials, but I have a very difficult time seeing Zeke back in 2023 unless something happens that never happens in the NFL — a running back finds explosion again after it being gone for a few years. His cap number in 2023 is not guaranteed and will be about $17 million and while it is always possible the team tries a modified deal as they did with DeMarcus Lawrence, I do not see it. I think this is his last year as a Cowboy.”
Jerry Jones, Cowboys owner, insists that Elliott must remain the team’s RB1 despite Tony Pollard’s arrival. Jones stated that there is still “plenty of space for Pollard” to touch the field during a July 30 interview. Dallas has tried out both players on the field simultaneously, with Pollard getting more snaps as a receiver during training camp.
Jones stated, “We have to have Tony Pollard out here.” “No, seriously. Zeke’s got to be our feature. He is our feature. There are many ways to feature him. Because of his protection ability, we all know what he does during the passing game. That is especially true for Zeke.
“Zeke takes some tolls when he’s out there as a back blocking. So it’s critical that we make Zeke — because he’s capable of being that — really the focus of what we’re doing. Now then, Pollard, there’s plenty of room for Pollard. There’s plenty of room for Pollard when Zeke’s in there. Pollard needs to get the ball.”
Elliott acknowledged that this season will be a major one for him, but he doesn’t seem to care about his job. Star rusher Elliott stressed that if he concentrates on his play in short-term, he will be in “pretty good” position next offseason.
Elliott stated that while it was a busy season, he believes you shouldn’t be too focused on the future. It is easier to focus on each day. Focusing on having a great day at camp is what I do. Focusing on each week will help me to manage it all. I don’t see any reason to worry about the future. If I manage my business each day, I will be in a good position at the end.
With Pollard set to become free agency in 2023, the Cowboys’ running back room could be a different place. The Cowboys could move away from the rushers and pursue cheaper options through the draft.