One NFL insider believes Ezekiel Elliott’s days with the Dallas Cowboys are numbered. Despite the Cowboys gushing about Elliott throughout the offseason, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio predicts the Cowboys will move on from Elliott after this season.
“I think he’s out,” Florio detailed on a June 17, 2022 episode of “Pro Football Talk.” “I think he’s out after this year. I think he’s out after this year, and the money that they would give to him is going to Tony Pollard and then they’ll draft somebody.
“They had no qualms about saying goodbye to DeMarco Murray. His reward for setting the franchise single-season rushing record was, ‘See you later. We’re not interested.’ And they would have already said that to Ezekiel Elliott if they didn’t have a contract structure that forced them to keep him around. And it’s amazing for a team that prides itself on being very shrewd, very shrewd when it comes to contract negotiations, they got the short end of it with Ezekiel Elliott and with Dak Prescott by delaying and assuming that they could just throw an arm around the guy and talk him into doing a hometown discount.”
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Elliott’s $90 Million Contract Runs Through the 2026 Season
The Cowboys will never publicly admit this, but the team would love a do-over when it comes to Elliott’s six-year, $90 million contract. With the price of NFL running backs continuing to decline, paying $15 million annually for an RB1 has not been a championship recipe in recent years.
Elliott’s contract runs through the 2026 season, but the Cowboys have an out in the star’s deal next offseason. According to Spotrac, the Cowboys can release Elliott in 2023 but would take a $11.8 million dead cap hit. Dallas could try to trade Elliott, but there is zero market for a $90 million running back.
Pollard Is a Free Agent in 2023 & Is Due for a Sizable Raise
Florio implied that the Cowboys could turn over the backfield to Tony Pollard after releasing Elliott in 2023, but the playmaker will be looking to get paid next offseason. Pollard is heading into the final season of his four-year, $3.1 million rookie contract and is due for a sizable raise. If the Cowboys want to keep Pollard, they will have to give the speedy running back a new deal and potentially also eat Elliott’s dead cap hit.
All this points to a very real scenario where the Cowboys opt to move on from both Elliott and Pollard next offseason. The most affordable option for the Cowboys moving forward is to select their new starting running back during one of the first two days of the 2023 NFL draft.
It will be interesting to see how the Cowboys utilize Elliott and Pollard during the 2022 season. Pollard was arguably the more productive back last season, but the Cowboys still opted to lean on Elliott. Pollard had 130 carries for 719 yards and two touchdowns averaging 5.5 yards per rush. The speedy back also added 39 receptions for 337 receiving yards. By comparison, Elliott notched 237 rushes for 1002 yards and 10 touchdowns averaging 4.2 yards per carry. The veteran running back also posted 47 receptions for 287 receiving yards and two touchdowns.