Much has been made about Ezekiel Elliott’s future with the Dallas Cowboys but those in power would like to see him back with the team next season.
While speaking to reporters at the Senior Bowl on Wednesday both Jerry and Stephen Jones were adamant that they want Elliott to return, despite the former rushing leader not looking like his old self.
But what it comes down to is money and striking the right value.
“You always want Zeke,” Stephen Jones said, “but do the numbers work? You can’t define what Zeke does for our football team.”
Elliott is due to make a $10.9 million base salary in 2023 with a $16.72 million cap number. He has no guaranteed money left on the hefty deal he signed in 2019 and the Cowboys could designate him as a post-June 1 cut to gain $10.9 million in much-needed cap space.
Jerry Jones Says Elliott’s Rushing Yards Don’t Indicate Contributions
Both Stephen and Jerry Jones were not buying into the idea that Elliott has lost a step, although the numbers indicate otherwise. Elliott had 231 attempts for 876 yards with 3.8 yards per carry — all career-lows. However, he was a solid goal-line threat for the Cowboys, notching 12 touchdowns.
“As we will review even more the season, we’re going to see the positives in Zeke. Zeke will look better,” Jerry Jones said. “I don’t want to talk about Zeke until we have had the benefit of really evaluating our whole season. But I do know this, without even looking at an evaluation, that Zeke was a lot more instrumental to the success that we had than his rushing yards indicate.”
The emergence of Tony Pollard also has to be factored into the Cowboys’ plans. Pollard is set to be a free agent but is coming off a breakout Pro Bowl season where he notched 1,007 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. He added 39 catches for 371 yards and three more touchdowns. If the Cowboys were to franchise tag Pollard, it would cost just over $10 million.
“Obviously, we’re probably one of the top teams in the league already with what we pay running backs,” Stephen Jones said. “We have to make sure how we pay attention to this and how we spread it out — and how we divide up the pie. We have to relook at that. We have to look at Zeke and obviously Tony is looking to make more money. So, we have to relook at the whole thing in terms of turning back and what that looks like.”
Jerry Jones had a similar sentiment, although he went about his own way of explaining how they’ll spend.
“When we ask a question about whether financially something is realistic, any one thing is,” Jerry Jones said. “Any two things are and I’m not trying to talk out of both sides of my mouth. You can have anything you can do, one time, or anything you can do three or four places. But all of that impacts what you can do in other places.”
Ezekiel Elliott Wants to be Back With Cowboys
Elliott has played his entire career with the Cowboys since being drafted No. 4 overall in 2016 and his preference would be staying put in Dallas.
“I’ve definitely thought about it,” Elliott said after the season. “I want to be here. I don’t have a crystal ball. Can’t predict the future, but definitely want to be here.”
Elliott likely understands that staying put means conceding a bit of cash, although it appears he’d be open to that. The Dallas Morning News reported on January 23 that Elliott would be open to taking a pay cut.
For the Cowboys, Elliott’s presence may mean more than his production. He’s very good friends with quarterback Dak Prescott and he’s built up a strong reputation in the locker room as a leader.