Todd ArcherESPN staff writer4 minutes to read
Frisco, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys will release Ezekiel Elliott, making the running back a free agent, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Elliott is set to count $16.7 million against the salary cap with $10.9 million in unsecured base salary. Elliott will be slated for a cut after June 1, sources say, which means the club will save nearly $11 million against the 2023 cap but will account for just over $6 million against the 2024 cap. The Cowboys won’t get the maximum credit until 1 June.
In recent NFL scouting, team owner and general manager Jerry Jones remained open to the possibility of keeping Elliott and Tony Pollard, who took the franchise’s $10.091 million mark, but that was always considered unlikely. Elliott would have had to accept a significant pay cut, and it is not clear that the Cowboys made such an offer. In two of their notable releases in the past, they haven’t made pay cut offers to DeMarcus Ware or Dez Bryant.
In 2019, Elliott signed a six-year, $90 million extension that includes $50 million in guaranteed money, but his numbers have fallen from the past three seasons, with him passing 1,000 yards (with 1,002) just once — in 2021, when the league expanded to a 17-game schedule.
Injuries have slowed at Elliott over the past two years. He played in a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in 2021 without missing a game. He only missed two games in 2022 due to an overextended right knee, but wore two goals for most of the season.
While Elliott continued as the starter, the Cowboys relied more on Pollard last season. Pollard ran for 1,007 yards, scored 12 touchdowns and was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time. The Cowboys have until July 15 to reach a multi-year agreement with him or he has to play the year on the card.
Elliott gained a career-low 876 yards in 2022, but scored 12 touchdowns and remained a shortstop running back and pass guard. But in his last four regular season games, he averaged just 2.7 yards per carry and had only 17 catches of 10 yards or more on the season.
The Cowboys selected Elliott with the #4 pick in 2016 with the idea of prolonging Tony Romo’s career with one of the best offensive lines in football. They never played a regular season game together, as Romo suffered a back injury in the preseason, but Elliott helped fellow rookie Dak Prescott lead the Cowboys to a 13-3 record. Elliott ran for a league-best 1,631 yards in 2016, the third most for a rookie in NFL history, and he has seven 100-yard games.
In 2017, he suspended six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, but in 2018 he led the league in rushing again with 1,434 yards. In 2019, he ranked fourth in the NFL in 1,357 yards rushing.
He had 26 100-yard rushing games in his first four seasons, but only had three in the next three seasons, including none in 2022. Last season, he joined Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett as Only linebackers in team history to reach 10,000 all-purpose yards.
Elliot turns 28 in July. He finished his Cowboys career with 1,881 carries for 8,262 yards and 68 rushing touchdowns. He caught 305 passes for 1,336 yards and 12 touchdowns. His 80 career hits is third in team history behind Smith (164) and Dorsett (86).
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