Dallas Cowboys: Was paying running back Ezekiel Elliott worth it?

Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys, Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys, Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys made Ezekiel Elliott one of the highest-paid players at his position. Was it worth it?

The Dallas Cowboys made running back Ezekiel Elliott the highest-paid back in the league back in 2019. Elliott signed a massive six-year, $90 million deal with the team last September. However, the young running back has struggled so far this season.

Zeke is currently posting a thoroughly unimpressive 3.9 yards per rushing attempt through four games. His 273 rushing yards currently have him ranked just outside of the top ten at this point in the year.

The fifth-year back is leading the league in something this year, fumbles. He is currently tied with Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady for the league lead in fumbles with three. Suffice it to say, this has not been the start that Cowboys’ fans wanted to see out of their young running back.

Despite the rough start to the year fans of America’s Team know that Elliott is a great runner of the football. In two of his first four seasons in the league, he led the NFL in rushing yards. However, unlike other running backs with similar salaries, he has failed to become a significant part of the teams’ passing attack.

Carolina Panther running back Christian McCaffrey, whose extension this past offseason made him the highest-paid running back in the NFL, finished last season with 1,387 rushing yards. McCaffrey also finished the year with 116 receptions and over 1,000 receiving yards.

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara also joined the ranks of the highest-paid backs this offseason when he signed a $75 million extension. Kamara has finished each of the past three seasons with exactly 81 catches and managed to accrue a career-high 826 receiving yards last year.

Meanwhile, Elliott has only put up more than 500 receiving yards once in his career. The 25-year old back has managed to catch only 77 balls in his last 20 games going back to the start of last season.

The organization only has a finite amount of money to build their roster. This offseason they had to let the two most seasoned members of their secondary, cornerback Byron Jones and safety Jeff Heath, walk. The teams’ defense is currently giving up a league-high 36.5 points per game.

Football is a game of choices. The Dallas Cowboys organization chose to make Elliott one of the highest-paid players at his position. However, that choice comes with consequences.

The team was unable to bring in additional players on the defensive side to help the team with a glaring weakness. Dallas was also unable to bring in sufficient depth on their offensive line as well. The pernicious effects of both of these choices have been put on full display through the early part of this season.

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Fans of America’s Team better hope that Ezekiel Elliott starts playing up to his salary. That probably means that he needs to get more involved in the passing game. Otherwise, the Dallas Cowboys organization will be faced with a tough question at the end of another potentially disappointing year, was it worth it?