The Cleveland Browns are among the favorites to land recently released Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.
In odds provided by Sportsline, the Los Angeles Chargers are the favorite to land Elliott at +300, while the Browns come in at fifth (+800). The Buffalo Bills (+400), Kansas City Chiefs (+500) and Baltimore Ravens (+600) are also ahead of the Browns, but Cleveland being included is interesting.
The Browns backfield is set to be restructured this offseason, with Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson heading into free agency. Neither had the role they would have liked last year behind Nick Chubb and are expected to find new teams.
The Browns have second-year back Jerome Ford in their arsenal, although there are questions about how he’d look in a larger role. He had just eight attempts last season.
Ezekiel Elliott Had Stellar Career With Cowboys
Elliott was let go by the Cowboys on Wednesday in a significant cap-saving move. It ended Elliott’s seven-year stint with the team that drafted him, which included a pair of rushing titles and three Pro Bowl selections.
However, his production has waned in recent years, which was amplified by Tony Pollard taking on more work. Pollard made the Pro Bowl last season as an explosive weapon in both the run and pass game, collecting 1,378 total yards. Meanwhile, Elliott posted the lowest rushing total of his career with 876 yards and just a 3.8 yards per carry average.
That being said, Elliott still is a strong short-yardage back. He had 12 touchdowns last season to lead the Cowboys.
For Dallas, the money didn’t match up for the production when it came to Elliott. He was set to count $16.7 million against the salary cap with a $10.9 million non-guaranteed base salary. Dallas saved nearly $11 million by making the move.
“Zeke’s impact and influence is seared into the Cowboys franchise in a very special and indelible way,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. “He has been a consummate professional and leader that set a tone in our locker room, on the practice field and in the huddle. Zeke defined what a great teammate should be, and anyone that has ever played a team sport would be lucky to have a teammate like Zeke and be much better for it.”
Browns RB Nick Chubb May Not Need Ton of Help
Chubb and Hunt were once touted as the best 1-2 punches in the league. However, that shifted last season, with Chubb really carrying the load for the Browns’ run game.
He was the engine of the Browns’ offense, rushing for more than 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns. It was Chubb’s fourth consecutive season rushing for over 1,000 yards and his career 5.2 per carry average is among the league’s elite.
However, there’s talk floating around that the Browns might shift to a more pass-heavy offense, revolving around QB Deshaun Watson.
“Cleveland’s offense is going to be really interesting next year. Look for the Browns to add a speed wide receiver this off-season to go with Amari Cooper. One source told me ‘They are really going to open up the offense. Go five wide. Pass a lot,” Matthew Berry of NBC Sports reported after the combine. “This is going to be Deshaun Watson’s offense, not Nick Chubb’s. They will pass a lot more than folks expect.”
So with that in mind, it would seem a bit foolish to bring in Elliott, who won’t add a dimension to the Browns’ offense behind Chubb. He’s a big name but will likely land elsewhere this offseason.