Ezekiel Elliott Dragged as Cowboys’ ‘Biggest Disappointment’ of 2020

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

Getty Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

There was no bigger letdown for the Dallas Cowboys this past season than star running back Ezekiel Elliott.

This, according to Bleacher Report, which put together a list of each team’s biggest disappointment from the 2020 campaign. Elliott was chosen as Dallas’ representative after falling short of 1,000 rushing yards for the first time since his suspension-shortened 2017 season.

Via columnist Kristopher Knox:

The Cowboys signed him to a six-year, $90 million contract last September to be the centerpiece of their offense. Asked to carry the load in 2020, Elliott too often stumbled.

Appearing in 15 games, Elliott rushed for only 979 yards and a modest 4.0 yards per carry. He did add 338 receiving yards and eight total touchdowns, but he did so with a $10.9 million cap hit. The 25-year-old also developed a fumbling habit, losing five fumbles on the season.

While Elliott often struggled behind Dallas’ injury-depleted line, fellow back Tony Pollard had less trouble. He averaged 4.3 yards per carry and produced five touchdowns while playing a more limited role.

Elliott is being paid like one of the NFL’s best running backs, but he was far from that in 2020.

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Deeper Dive

Like everyone else on the Cowboys’ offense, Zeke was severely impacted by the Week 5 loss of franchise quarterback Dak Prescott. From that point forward, he faced stacked boxes and was continually swarmed around the line of scrimmage.

Elliott eclipsed 100 yards in just two games and notched his fewest ground touchdowns (eight) since 2018, as well as the lowest yards-per-carry (4.0) of his five-year career. His receiving output (338 yards) took a turndown from 2019 (420).

Dallas’ injury-ruined offensive line (and his own calf ailment) also contributed to Elliott’s sagging numbers, but the 25-year-old was outshined by sophomore RB Tony Pollard on multiple occasions, leading to speculation about the former’s future in silver and blue — speculation that head coach Mike McCarthy was forced to dispel.

“I have no concerns about Zeke. I think he’s still a big-time player and will continue to be a featured component of our offense,” McCarthy said Monday.

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Cowboys Linked to 2021 Trade for New Starting QB

We’ve officially entered #SpeculationSzn. And to kick off the annual occurrence, Bleacher Report compiled a list of four 2021 trade targets for the Cowboys, including none other than soon-to-be-former New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold.

If the Cowboys don’t bring Prescott back and can’t afford to sign another quarterback in free agency, Darnold could be a great option as they look to see if he could thrive in their offense. He would have plenty of weapons to throw to in CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, his cap hit would be less than $10 million in 2021, and the Cowboys wouldn’t be obligated to keep him after next year.

This would all depend on the Cowboys not re-signing Prescott and the Jets drafting a quarterback, but playing in Dallas would be an ideal fresh start for Darnold.

READ NEXT: Jerry Jones Comes Clean on Long-Term Deal for Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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