$90 Million Running Back Named ‘Final Hope’ For Jets

Ezekiel Elliott

Getty Ezekiel Elliott is viewed as the "final hope" for the Jets.

The New York Jets still don’t have a solidified answer at running back behind Breece Hall, and one analyst thinks that Ezekiel Elliott is the team’s last chance at finding a suitable backup.

Two more free agent running backs are off the market after Royce Freeman and J.K. Dobbins signed deals with new teams. SI.com’s Ralph Ventre believes that Elliott is the only suitable remaining option for the Jets to find a veteran backup at the position.

“As for the thinning free agent market, former Dallas Cowboys‘ Pro Bowler Ezekiel Elliott likely remains the most appetizing option available,” Ventre wrote. “The former No. 4 overall draft pick appeared in all 17 games for the New England Patriots last year, totaling 955 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns as a second-stringer.”

Elliott may have played for a divisional rival in 2023, but the Jets could add him as a stable backup presence behind Hall.

How Much Is Left in Ezekiel Elliott’s Tank?

After such an iconic NFL career, Elliott’s time in the league may soon be coming to an end.

Elliott was the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. He spent his first seven seasons with the Cowboys, earning three Pro Bowl selections and first-team All-Pro honors in 2016. He led the NFL in rushing in two separate seasons.

However, the Cowboys were criticized for signing Elliott to a $90 million extension in 2019 that made him the league’s highest-paid running back. His rushing efficiency plummeted just one year into that deal, and in 2023 he was released by the team.

Elliott signed a one-year deal last offseason with the Patriots. Unfortunately, he was unable to bounce back, averaging just 3.5 yards per carry.

Now that he has over 2,000 career rushing attempts, Elliott is starting to near the end of his career. He’s only 28 years old, but seasons of being a workhorse have worn him down.

The Jets might still want an experience veteran backup. If that’s the case, Elliott might be able to give it at least one more year in a limited role.

Who Are New York’s Other RB Options?

If the Jets don’t make another move at running back, there isn’t a lot of experience behind Hall.

Israel Abanikanda was a fifth-round draft pick by Jets last offseason. However, he was unable to see much of the field as a rookie. He had just 22 carries for 70 yards, averaging just 3.2 yards per attempt.

The other two running backs are Xazavian Valladay and Jacques Patrick. They have two career carries between them, so don’t expect them to be asked to do much in 2024.

New York’s lack of depth at running back has been noted by the team. Head coach Robert Saleh even told reporters the team wasn’t done at running back this offseason.

Elliott might still be an option for the Jets. However, if they’re not confident in what a veteran free agent can bring to the table, expect general manager Joe Douglas to take a swing on a prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Otherwise, the Jets are going to have to rely on some unknown commodities behind Hall.

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