1. Production/efficiency isn’t worth it anymore
It’d be one thing for the Cowboys to keep a declining player if they were still producing at a high level. The the thing is Elliott is a shell of his former self. That can be attributed to the ridiculous mileage on his tires and the beating he’s taken between the tackles over his seven years as Dallas’ starting running back.
Coming into 2022, Zeke tallied 1,650 carries in his career. That averages out to 275 attempts per season. It’s almost unprecedented. The only running back who even has a comparable workload is Derrick Henry, and he didn’t surpass 300 carries until his fourth season in 2019, when he first won the rushing crown.
Elliott still runs hard and is awesome near the goal line. His 12 rushing touchdowns ranked fourth at the position.
That, sadly, is basically all he was good for this season. Over the last six games, Elliott averaged 2.60 yards per carry (82 carries for 213 yards). That’s a large sample size, and there’s no evidence to suggest he’ll turn it around in 2023.
This doesn’t paper over what Zeke accomplished in his prime, but this season proved he’s past it, and the production isn’t conducive to winning and maintaining a healthy salary cap, even on a reduced salary.