The Dallas Cowboys offseason isn’t even a week old yet, and the Ezekiel Elliott discourse is already out of control. Short of addressing the wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker and defensive tackle positions, the future of Elliott will be the biggest storyline surrounding the organization for the next several months.
Some fans would take Elliott back on a reduced salary; he already disclosed his willingness to restructure his contract and lessen his cap hit. Others, meanwhile, struggle finding the positives in brining him back after his lackluster 2022.
Elliott started out strong by averaging 4.3 yards per carry over the first six games. He also finished top five among running backs with 12 rushing touchdowns.
When all was said and done, though, Zeke finished the season with 878 rushing yards, while averaging 3.8 yards per attempt. His yards per game output has decreased in every season since his rookie year, and it was apparent in the playoff loss to San Francisco that his burst is all but gone.
It’s anyone’s guess what the future holds for Elliott, but Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram suggested that the surprise dismissal of longtime running backs coach Skip Peete spells bad news for the aging back.
What does Skip Peete’s departure mean for Ezekiel Elliott’s Cowboys future?
There’s a lot of ways to look at this. For starters, Hill is extremely plugged in to everything Cowboys. He wouldn’t put something into the Twitter verse and subject himself to criticism if there wasn’t substance behind it.
At the same time, though, Peete had two separate stints with the Cowboys as an assistant. He didn’t oversee the RB room for Elliott’s entire career, so him leaving doesn’t quantify as Elliott no longer having his lifetime coach. Whomever Dallas hires to replace Peete would represent Zeke’s third RB coach. It’s very possible Peete’s dismissal has no bearing on the player’s future with the organization.
Peete arrived in Dallas with Mike McCarthy in 2020. He previously served as the Rams running backs coach from 2016 to 2019. At that point, Elliott was in his fifth season with the Cowboys, and a three-time Pro Bowler, Offensive Rookie of the Year, a first-team All-Pro, and a top-three finisher in MVP voting.
At the end of the day, the Cowboys aren’t going to move on from Elliott because Peete won’t be back. Similarly, they won’t let whomever succeeds Peete to waltz in and demand the running back room undergo a facelift. Jerry and Stephen Jones, and Mike McCarthy will have the final say in personnel decisions.
If Dallas does pull the plug on Elliott, it’ll be because THEY want to reset the cap at the position due to the player’s (rapidly) declining production and athleticism.