Emmanuel Acho Sends Strong Warning to Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott

Getty Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys waits in the tunnel before a game.

The Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott got a strong warning from former Philadelphia Eagles corner and current Fox Sports analyst Emmanuel Acho.

Elliott is coming off his fourth NFL season with 1000 rushing yards or more, and his third with 10 rushing touchdowns or more. However, the running back’s gigantic contract has been a financial thorn in the Cowboys’ side, and always puts a strong spotlight on his performance.

Acho is one of those paying attention, and the former NFL CB said as much on Speak for Yourself. Alongside Marcellus Wiley, Acho broke down players that he believe are entering “make-or-break” seasons, and Elliott was the first player mentioned.

“For Zeke, it’s a make or break season,” Acho said. “Remember [Ezekiel Elliott] has been tied up to the Cowboys because they’ve been tied up to him monetarily. But now that the money is starting to dwindle and the guaranteed pay is starting to dwindle… Zeke: if you don’t ball this year, it’s probably a wrap. Tony Pollard, he’s waiting to get more touches and he’s way cheaper.”

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Acho’s message is an eye-catching one, but the context surrounding Elliott’s salary and Pollard’s presence are as important to understand as the three-time Pro Bowler’s play in 2022.

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Elliott’s Contract Weighs Heavy

Modern NFL thinking focuses around the passing offense, and the value of running backs have steadily fallen in the past decade, at least in a cap percentage sense. However, Dallas was so impressed with Zeke that the team gave him a six-year, $90 million contract.

In 2022, Elliott’s contract accounts for 8.27% of the Cowboys’ cap space, per Spotrac. To put that in perspective, the running back’s $18.2 million salary is more than 30 NFL teams are spending in total on running backs contracts. The Tennessee Titans (thanks to star RB Derrick Henry’s $15 million a season) are the only team spending more more than $18.2 million to pay running backs.

This is all established to say that Elliott has to have All-Pro seasons to give the Cowboys a decent return for the pay. The problem is that Elliott hasn’t made any form of the All-Pro team since 2018, and hasn’t made a Pro Bowl since 2019.

This can be frustrating for Cowboys fans, but really the franchise is to blame here. Elliott should only look to get paid the most he can, and being a “smart investment” for Dallas isn’t neccesarily his problem.

Pollard Impresses with Cowboys

Elliott may not have to worry about being financially effective, but performing well is how he keeps his big-money contract and fends off Pollard. As Acho mentioned, the Cowboys backup RB has shined in his three seasons.

According to Pro Sports Reference, Pollard averages 5.1 yards per carry, which is higher than Elliott’s career 4.5 yards per carry. Further, the 2019 fourth-round pick beat Zeke in yards per carry in each of the past three seasons.

Pollard’s 1600 rushing yards and eight touchdowns are impressive for a backup, but he is yet to get a chance at a starter’s workload in the NFL. That’s not necessarily his fault, but it means the Cowboys still don’t know how he would do in that scenario.

Either way, Dallas is in a great spot with running backs. This season will just determine how the Cowboys approach the position after 2022.

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