Not everyone is convinced that Ezekiel Elliott’s days with the Dallas Cowboys are over. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell broke down the Cowboys moves at running back this offseason and has “Elliott’s return” under his “what could be next” section for Dallas.
“A reunion could be in the cards if he doesn’t find what he’s looking for on the open market,” Barnwell wrote on March 30, 2023. “Elliott had reportedly narrowed down his list of teams to the Bengals, Eagles and Jets, but none of those teams appears to be interested in finalizing a deal with the 27-year-old.
“…In the right role as an early down back and pass protector, Elliott could still be a useful contributor to a winning football team, but that sort of player usually lands about $3-4 million in free agency. After making just over $50 million across the past four seasons in Dallas, he might not be experiencing the hometown premium at the thought of returning for that sort of money.”
The Cowboys already signed Ronald Jones but are likely still in the market to make another significant addition at the position, especially with Tony Pollard recovering from a broken fibula. While Dallas is saying all the right things about Elliott publicly, it remains to be seen if the franchise has much of an appetite to bring the star back to Big D, even if it is at a reduced rate.
The Eagles, Jets & Bengals Have All Downplayed the Zeke Rumors
As a refresher, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on March 23 that Elliott had “narrowed down his options” to the Eagles, Jets and Bengals. All three teams have since downplayed this rumor making it more likely that this is a “wish list” for Elliott versus the franchises that are interested in the former Pro Bowler. The Jets were the most recent team to shoot down the rumors.
“Robert Saleh on Jets interest in Zeke Elliott ‘We love our running back room,'” SNY.TV’s Connor Hughes said in a series of March 27, 2023 tweets. “You can pretty much put that one to sleep. Sounds like the Jets interest in Zeke Elliott was actually more Zeke Elliott being interested in the Jets.”
Jerry Jones on Bringing Back Ezekiel Elliott: ‘I Wouldn’t Take Any Possibility Off the Table’
During their first public comments since Elliott’s release, head coach Mike McCarthy and owner Jerry Jones both left the door open for a possible reunion. Jones noted that Elliott taking a paycut was still technically “on the table” until the running back signs with another team. The Cowboys owner admitted that the franchise did not make Elliott a formal offer to return to the team aside from the $90 million contract the running back was on prior to being cut.
“Well, that was on the table and you might say that to some degree that hasn’t changed and won’t until he signed someplace else,” Jones told reports at the NFL Owner’s Meeting on March 27. “… I don’t want to ever- and I don’t want to leave him hanging, our fans hanging or anybody- but I wouldn’t take any possibility off the table.”
Ezekiel Elliott Wants to Play Against the Cowboys in 2023: Report
For now, Elliott appears to have revenge on his mind heading into next season. Sports Illustrated’s Mike Fisher reported that Elliott “absolutely” wants to play against the Cowboys in 2023. It remains to be seen where Elliott will land and teams may be less likely to make a competitive offer until after the draft given the depth at running back in this year’s class.
“Zeke, according to a source who is close to the two-time NFL rushing champ, ‘absolutely’ wants to play against the Cowboys in 2023,” Fisher detailed on March 23. “Call it ‘revenge’ or call it ‘drama’ or maybe it would just be fun to compete against old pals like Dallas QB Dak Prescott and a host of other Cowboys who consider Elliott a pal.”