An era has ended with the Dallas Cowboys following the release of running back Ezekiel Elliott, who played his entire 7-year NFL career with the team. Elliott is now a free agent and can sign with any team.
Elliott was set to count nearly $17 million against the salary cap, including almost $11 million non-guaranteed base salary. Since Elliott will be a post-June 1st cut, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Cowboys will have $11 million against the cap this year and $6 million next year.
Cowboys’ owner and general manager Jerry Jones recently considered keeping both Elliott and Tony Pollard, who rushed for 1007 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Pollard was designated the franchise tag at $10 million. However, the Cowboys would have had to significantly cut Elliott’s salary to keep both Polland and Elliott. That wasn’t the kind of offer the Cowboys were likely to make, nor was it something Elliott would have accepted.
Elliott will be known in Dallas for his contributions on the field and as a professional who was a tone-setter in the locker room, during practice, and during the games.
Among running backs in Cowboys’ history, Elliott ranks third in rushing behind Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett, with 8262 yards. He is also third in rushing touchdowns with 68. Elliott is a three-time Pro Bowler with at least 1000 yards rushing in four seasons.
At 27 years old, Elliott’s best years are likely behind him, but that doesn’t mean that he cannot be productive. He still rushed for 876 yards last season and 1002 yards two seasons ago. It will be interesting to see if Elliott looks to sign with a team where he has a chance to win a championship, even if he isn’t the featured back, or opt to sign with a team that is in need of a number one back.
The teams with the worst rushing attacks in the league last year were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers, and Cincinnati Bengals.
As we discuss the Cowboys releasing Ezekiel Elliott, let’s also look at another team change where the Vikings released wide receiver Adam Thielen.