Former Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is still looking for a new home, and the Minnesota Vikings are being labeled as a potential fit for the star. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox put together potential landing spots for the top remaining free agents with the Buccaneers and Vikings being labeled as Elliott’s best options.
Minnesota star Dalvin Cook is a potential cut candidate which would create a hole at running back for the Vikings. Under this scenario, Elliott would team up with Alexander Mattison to form a new backfield tandem.
“Elliott could make sense for the Minnesota Vikings, who appear to be on the verge of parting with star running back Dalvin Cook,” Knox wrote on May 26, 2023. “The Vikings have “come close” to trading Cook, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. The social-media team also recently replaced Cook with Alexander Mattison in its Twitter banner (h/t Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk).
“Naturally, Minnesota would clear Cook’s salary from the books before signing a back like Elliott to pair with Mattison.”
Mike McCarthy: ‘This Really Isn’t About Replacing Zeke. It’s Really About Opportunities for the Young Guys’
Some Cowboys fans are still holding out hope that Elliott could re-sign with Dallas given his availability. All signs point to the Cowboys moving on from Elliott as head coach Mike McCarthy continues to speak as if the team has already moved on from the playmaker.
“I don’t think you just go out and replace Zeke,” McCarthy explained on May 25, per The Athletic’s Jon Machota. “I’ve never viewed it that way. Business, cap economics, that’s real. You make decisions and sometimes the decisions definitely factor in the next decision or two that’s coming down the road.
“We were just doing short yardage and goal line last night and he just jumps off the tape. This really isn’t about replacing Zeke. It’s really about opportunities for the young guys. Tony’s opportunity to be the lead back. We’re just getting all those guys ready. Deuce is the new guy. It’s been cool to see him implemented into the things we’ve been doing here the last week. The group will look different because his presence is not there any more.”
Ezekiel Elliott Averaged Less Than 4 Yards Per Carry for the First Time in His Career in 2022
Elliott posted 231 carries for 876 yards and 12 touchdowns during 15 appearances in 2022. It marked the first season in Elliott’s seven-year career that the running back averaged less than four yards per rush at 3.8 yards per carry.
Prior to Elliott’s release by the Cowboys, the former Pro Bowler still had four seasons remaining on a six-year, $90 million contract. Buccaneers running backs coach Skip Peete, who coached Elliott in Dallas, believes some of the financial details are likely a significant factor in why the veteran has not signed with a new team.
“I think he would be good in any situation, I’m just not sure exactly how the dynamic of explaining to him that, like I told him, I said, ‘You’re gonna play for a million dollars,'” Peete said during a May 10 press conference. “And I think he was making like [$12 million]. So, I mean, who’s gonna be the one to tell him that?
“I think that’s part of the reason he’s sitting out there, but if you’re going to play and you’re going to be the second or third guy, that’s kind of what the price is. So, that’s something that that person has to be able to make a decision on if that’s what they want to do.”