The Dallas Cowboys are being urged to trade one of their top stars.
As noted by Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report, the Cowboys should consider trading three-time Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott. Sobleski notes his contract — he’s due $18.2 million this season — and his declining production at a devalued position as reasons why Dallas should move on from their star running back.
“He’s also the league’s highest-paid player (in total value) at a devalued position,” says Sobleski. “While Elliott posted big numbers, the Cowboys won only a single playoff game and didn’t get past the divisional round. Meanwhile, his salary-cap charge this season is $18.2 million. Then he’s under contract for the next four campaigns and the number never dips below $14.3 million.
By trading him now, the Cowboys can save $12.4 million toward this year’s salary cap, which can be rolled over to 2023. Unsurprisingly, the Cowboys are in the red going into next offseason.”
ALL the latest Dallas Cowboys news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Cowboys newsletter here!
Elliott Hasn’t Produced Close to His Contract Value
Since signing his six-year, $90 million contract extension back in 2019, Elliott’s numbers have remained respectable; but they’re nowhere near close to the production from earlier in his career. After rushing for 1,357 yards on 4.5 yards per carry during the 2019 season, Elliott has averaged just 991 rushing yards per season on 4.1 yards per carry over the past two seasons.
While the numbers are certainly solid, they’re not in line with what the league’s highest-paid running back should be producing. What makes the contract look even worse is the fact that the Cowboys’ backup running back, Tony Pollard, has proven to be more capable of breaking off bigger plays than the player ahead of him on the depth chart.
Ian Wharton of Bleacher Report explains the financial dilemma that the Cowboys are currently in due to Elliott’s contract and why he’s one of the nine most “overpaid” players in the league.
“Elliott brings value as a receiver and pass-blocker, but his massive salary and unspectacular production are issues,” says Wharton. “Dallas can escape his contract next year, but even with a post-June 1 designation, the team would still be hit with a significant dead-cap charge in 2023 ($5.8 million) and 2024 ($4.3 million). A June 1 designation means Dallas wouldn’t get the $10.9 million in cap savings off Elliott’s contract until after that date.
It might be impossible for him to do anything this season to remain on his current deal. His lack of explosiveness stands out compared to backup Tony Pollard in an undeniable way. Dallas should reallocate the money owed to Elliott as soon as possible.”
Cowboys Will Have Decision to Make on Elliott in 2023
The 25-year-old Pollard was substantially better in the running game than Elliott last season. Pollard averaged 5.5 yards per carry — fifth-best mark in the league last season — and 6.2 yards per touch — 10th-best in the league — last season. For perspective, Pollard is earning a shade over $1.1 million this season, 61st among all running backs in the league. He’s entering the final year of his deal this season.
Considering Elliott is on the verge of turning 27 years old and has durability and big-play limitations at a devalued position, no NFL team is going to bite on his contract.
But with Pollard seeking a big pay day and looking more and more like Elliott’s successor, the starting running back’s days in Dallas appear to be numbered after this season.