The ball is in Ezekiel Elliott’s court on a potential reunion with the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys released Elliott on March 15 after seven seasons in Dallas, saving nearly $11 million by designating him as a post-June 1 cut. Elliott has not received much interest as a free agent and remains without a team.
The Cowboys have kept the door open on Elliott potentially returning to the team and are ready to come to the table to get a deal done if the former rushing leader is open to it, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.
“I checked in with somebody this week, who said that Dallas has not closed the door on a potential Zeke return,” Fowler said during an appearance on Saturday’s SportsCenter. “Now, there’s nothing cooking there, and it might not happen, but I was told that Dallas certainly would re-engage in conversation if Zeke wanted to do that. But he could continue to wait and see what develops in the next few months job-wise.”
Elliott could decide to see if an injury or something else pops up that would make his services more attractive to a team outside of Dallas. However, returning to the team at a lower number would be a good option for Elliott, who could still carve out a role as a blocker and short-yardage specialist.
“It’s pretty much a waiting game because the running back market has slowed a little bit,” Fowler said. “Teams aren’t overly eager to spend on veterans in early June at that kind of position, so he could wait this out and see what else is out there. The Bucs at one time were looking for some help there, we’ll see if they circle back.”
Buccaneers RB Coach Had Message for Ezekiel Elliott
Elliott’s former running backs coach Skip Peete is now in Tampa Bay, so he has a link to the Bucs. However, Peete was very clear with some comments earlier this offseason that Elliott will have to embrace his new role of not being a lead back.
“I told him, ‘You’re going to play for $1 million’ and I think he was making like $12 (million),” Peete told the Tampa Bay Times. “Who’s gonna tell him that? I think that’s part of the reason he’s sitting out there. But if you’re going to play and be the second, third guy that’s kind of what the price is. That’s something that person has to make a decision if that’s what he wants to do.”
Elliott is coming off a year where he rushed for a career-low 876 yards. He did find the end zone a dozen times but he managed just 3.8 yards per carry.
Cowboys Not Looking to Replace Ezekiel Elliott
It was a tough decision to part ways with Elliott, who had been a pillar in the locker room despite his recent drop in production. And although his numbers were down, Elliott is not someone the Cowboys can easily replace, which head coach Mike McCarthy pointed out.
“I don’t think you can just go out and replace Zeke,” McCarthy said at Cowboys OTAs on Thursday. “Business, capanomics, that’s real. You have to make decisions and sometimes those decisions factor into the next decision or two that’s coming down the road. [The coaching staff was] going over short-yardage and goal line again last night and [Zeke] just jumps off the tape, so this isn’t about replacing Zeke.”
Tony Pollard will take on the lead-back role, with newcomer Ronald Jones competing for carries. The Cowboys also drafted Deuce Vaughn, who will join a depth chart that also includes Malik Davis and Rico Dowdle.