After months of rumors, Ezekiel Elliott’s tenure with the Dallas Cowboys appears to be coming to a close. Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill reported that the Cowboys plan to “part ways” with Elliott paving the way for the veteran running back to find a new team in the coming months.
“The Ezekiel Elliott era appears to be over in Dallas,” Hill wrote on March 15, 2023. “Per a source close to the situation, the Cowboys are set to part ways with the two-time NFL rushing champ and the running back is preparing to start fresh with a new team. The move could come as soon as Wednesday afternoon when the league’s 2023 calendar officially begins at 3 p.m. and teams are required to be under the salary cap.”
NFL Network’s Jane Slater reported a source with the team noted the two parties were “trying to make it work.” At this point, it would be a major upset if Elliott is not playing for a new franchise when the 2023 season kicks off.
“I’ve inquired about Zeke and here’s what I’ve been told. ‘There have been discussions about his release. Not sure if it’s happening today’ per one source,” Slater tweeted on March 15. “Another ‘Last I heard we were trying to make it work. That was a week ago.'”
The Cowboys Were Pushing Ezekiel Elliott to Take a ‘Massive’ Pay Cut, Says Insider
Elliott still has four seasons remaining on a six-year, $90 million contract and is slated to have a $10.9 million salary. With the Cowboys placing the franchise tag on Tony Pollard, it is unrealistic for Dallas to spend more than $20 million on the running back position heading into 2023.
According to Over the Cap, the Cowboys would take an $11.8 million dead cap hit by releasing the star now, but this number drops to $5.8 million if the franchise waits until after June 1. Heavy Sports NFL insider Matt Lombardo reported that things were expected to come to a head given Elliott’s potential unwillingness to take a “massive” pay cut that the Cowboys were pushing.
“The Dallas Cowboys could be on the verge of giving Ezekiel Elliott an ultimatum, as the franchise and running back appear locked in a stare-down as the offseason begins,” Lombardo reported on February 16. “According to multiple league sources familiar with the running back market, I’m told the Cowboys are poised to ask Elliott to take a ‘massive pay cut’ in order to stay with the team.”
“…That pay cut is expected to be massive, with one source telling me he isn’t certain Elliott will take it.”
Dallas Is Not Expected to Officially Cut Zeke Until After June 1
Given the cap constraints, the move is not expected to become official until after June 1, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Elliott had 231 carries for 876 yards and 12 touchdowns averaging 3.8 yards per carry during 15 appearances in 2022. It marked the first time in Elliott’s career that his average per carry dropped below four yards.
“This [cutting Elliott] is the likely choice, sources confirm,” Rapoport tweeted on March 15. “Not official. But very real chance Zeke Elliott has played his last down in Dallas (and would be a post-June 1 release).”