Cowboys Create Controversy by Giving Ezekiel Elliott’s Number to New Player

Jerry Jones, Ezekiel Elliott

Getty The Dallas Cowboys are moving on from Ezekiel Elliott.

Dallas Cowboys fans knew that Ezekiel Elliott would not be running out of the tunnel with No. 21 next season, but the team has already awarded the star’s old number to newly acquired cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The news comes just weeks after the Cowboys officially released Elliott after months of rumors. As’s Patrik Walker pointed out, fans are hoping that Gilmore can be reminiscent of the last star corner to wear No. 21 in Big D: Deion Sanders.

“Stephon Gilmore will wear No. 21 for the Cowboys — the number made available with the recent release of Ezekiel Elliott,” Walker tweeted on March 27, 2023. “The most impactful CB in Dallas to previously wear that number? Deion.”

Photos have already been circulating of the Cowboys heavily discounting Elliott’s old jerseys at the team shop. Despite leaving the door slightly cracked for a potential reunion, the jersey swap also shows the front office has moved on from Elliott. As for the ex-Cowboys running back, Elliott has already put in a claim for his old college No. 15 at his next destination.

“I want my #15 back,” Elliott tweeted on March 23 in his first public comments since being released.

Dallas also announced that Ronald Jones will wear No. 32 and Chuma Edoga has been awarded No. 71. Elliott is still looking for his next franchise with the Eagles, Bengals and Jets as the top teams the running back is interested in joining, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Cowboys Do Not Technically Retire Jerseys But the Franchise Has Exceptions to This Rule

It is worth noting that the Cowboys as a franchise are not particularly sentimental with jersey numbers but there are exceptions. Dallas unofficially does not retire jerseys, but not all numbers are created equal. It would be a surprise if a new running back was awarded No. 22 after Emmitt Smith and Bob Hayes have put the number out of rotation.

Similarly, quarterbacks have not worn No. 8 since Troy Aikman, but Dallas was quick to give out Tony Romo’s No. 9 jersey. The Cowboys have an affinity for giving the No. 88 jersey to star receivers with CeeDee Lamb becoming the latest wideout to join Drew Pearson, Michael Irvin and Dez Bryant in the No. 88 club. At the very least, the news of the jersey number swap illustrates that the NFL can be a brutal business.

Stephon Gilmore on Joining Cowboys: ‘I’m Looking Forward to Going for the Championship’

Controversy aside, Gilmore is a lifelong Cowboys fan who is looking forward to wearing the No. 21 along with a star on his helmet. During his first public comments since joining Dallas, Gilmore emphasized that he has his eyes on “going for the championship” with his new teammates like Lamb and Dak Prescott.

“It’s going to be great,” Gilmore told on March 15. “Obviously, you have to work hard and put the work in, but those guys have been great players in this league. I’m just trying to come in and add my piece to the puzzle. I’m looking forward to competing with people like CeeDee Lamb in practice, getting better, even Dak [Prescott].

“He’s a great quarterback. I’m looking forward to going for the championship. That’s what we play the game for.”