The Dallas Cowboys might not be done just yet with one of their former players.
While speaking to reporters on Monday, March 27, Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones revealed that the Cowboys are open to bringing back running back Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas released their longtime running back on March 15 after seven seasons with the franchise.
Via Clarence Hill Jr. of The Fort-Worth Star Telegram:
“I don’t want to ever and I don’t want to leave him hanging or-fans hanging or anybody,” Jones said at the NFL Owner’s Meetings.. “But I wouldn’t take any possibility off the table.”
Why the Cowboys Released Ezekiel Elliott
The Cowboys moved on from Elliott largely due to his contract which would have paid him $10.9 million in salary for the 2023 season. His $16.7 million cap hit for 2023 would have made him the second-highest paid running back in the league. When factoring in his career-low numbers from last season — 876 rushing yards on 3.8 yards per carry — it made little sense to retain Elliott without a major restructuring of his contract.
Jones referred to the salary cap as the reason why the Cowboys released Elliott.
“It was all about making the adjustment principally because of the cap because of where we were,” Jones said. “Love to have him. But again, with what we need to do to make our cap work and what we can do to really, in our mind, improve through scheme or another player, that was worth us saving that money on the cap.”
Not only did the Cowboys release Elliott, Jones revealed that Dallas did not offer a deal for the running back to restructure. This is despite a report that indicated the 27-year-old running back was willing to take a pay cut to remain in Dallas.
“No, no specifically, no,” Jones said definitively.
Ezekiel Elliott Struggling to Draw Interest
The former three-time Pro Bowler remains on the market as he looks for his next destination. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported last week that Elliott is interested in playing for three teams — the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals.
“Cowboys’ RB Ezekiel Elliott has narrowed down his options about where to play to the Eagles, Jets and Bengals, and he would like to make his decision about where to sign by the end of next week, per sources,” says Schefer.
However, it appears all three teams have no interest in signing Elliott, as John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports.
“I’m told as of right now the Eagles have not engaged in conversations with Ezekiel Elliott about joining the team and are happy with the running backs they have right now,” Clark said on Thursday, March 23. “It seems the Eagles, Bengals, Jets are a wish list for Ezekiel Elliott and where he would like to play.”
Not only are reports indicating that teams are not interested in signing Elliott, the head coaches of those respective teams are shutting down the notion of adding the veteran back. The Bengals’ Zac Taylor and the Jets’ Robert Saleh have both publicly dismissed the idea of adding Elliott at the current moment.
While Elliott clearly isn’t the running back he was just a few years prior, he does still hold value. The seven-year veteran remains a workhorse at running back, ranking 10th in the league in carries with 231 attempts last season. Furthermore, he ranked fifth in the league with 12 rushing touchdowns.
Elliott may not find a new team in the coming days, but if he remains a free agent following the draft, the Cowboys could always re-sign their former starting back to a cheaper deal.