The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to be linked to former Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, and the rumors have not slowed down despite the team signing playmaker Chase Edmonds. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell offered his best landing spots for the top remaining free agents and has the Bucs signing Elliott on a one-year, $4 million contract.
“One year, $4 million with the Buccaneers. Here, he would be part of a split backfield alongside Rachaad White, who would serve as the team’s primary pass-catcher out of the backfield,” Barnwell wrote on March 22, 2023. “Elliott would be an early-down runner and much-needed pass protection specialist for an offense currently expected to start Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask at quarterback. Tampa will likely move toward a more run-heavy approach after Tom Brady’s retirement, so it is going to need someone to rotate with White.”
The Bucs could have competition if the team hopes to land the former All-Pro. Heavy Sports’ NFL insider Matt Lombardo labeled the Bills as the franchise generating the most buzz regarding Elliott’s next potential destination.
“Asked around on Ezekiel Elliott today. According to a current NFL GM: ‘He’s Lost his burst. Still tough, great in pass pro. Instinctive runner but doesn’t have same juice or legs he had in past. Not a featured back,'” Lombardo tweeted on March 17. “Team, agent sources almost unanimously: Watch for Bills.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Elliott has narrowed down his next stop to the following three options: Bengals, Jets and Eagles. Cowboys fans are likely hoping that Elliott lands outside the NFC East making Philadelphia a less than ideal scenario.
The Bucs & Cowboys Could Both Add Former Running Backs
The Buccaneers and Cowboys could be doing a bit of borrowing from each other’s backfields when the 2023 season kicks off. Dallas signed Ronald Jones in free agency to help replenish some of the depth the team lost with the release of Elliott. Jones played with the Chiefs in 2022, but the former highly touted prospect spent his first four years in Tampa Bay.
Similarly, Elliott is now being linked to the Bucs, but Tampa Bay has some work to do given the team is still over the salary cap, per Spotrac. The Buccaneers hired ex-Cowboys assistant Skip Peete to be the franchise’s new running backs coach. Peete was a major advocate for Elliott in Dallas prompting speculation that the star running back has at least one fan inside the Buccaneers building.
There Are Conflicting Reports on the Bucs’ Interest Level in Adding Ezekiel Elliott
Prior to his release, Elliott still had four seasons remaining on a six-year, $90 million contract and was slated to earn a $10.9 million salary. Elliott is unlikely to find a new deal nearly as lucrative as his previous contract with Dallas.
Even on a bargain, Fox Sports’ Greg Auman noted the Bucs are “not likely a match” for Elliott given their salary cap woes. Contrarily, Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud reported that the Buccaneers are “expected to be interested” in adding Elliott given his sudden availability.
“Running back Ezekiel Elliott is set to part ways with the Cowboys and the two-time rushing champion will be looking for a new team, according to multiple reports,” Stroud detailed on March 16. “The Bucs are expected to be interested.
“Former Cowboys coach Skip Peete is now coaching that position for Tampa Bay and has an opening for a veteran running back after the team officially releases Leonard Fournette later today. In fact, in discussions with the agents for other free-agent running backs, the Bucs expressed their interest in Elliott if he were to be released.”