1. Ezekiel Elliott, RB
In a perfect world, the Cowboys will release Elliott this offseason instead of restructuring his contract. While Elliott is still one of the game’s premier backs near the goal line and in short-yardage situations, he’s being paid to be the best back in the NFL, and he’s sadly nowhere near that level anymore.
Should Jerry Jones remain committed to Zeke, the Cowboys could save $7.3 million in salary cap space by restructuring his deal, per Over The Cap. If Dallas was to outright release Elliott with a post-June 1 designation, however, they would save $10.9 million while absorbing a manageable $5.82 million in dead money.
In a vacuum, $7.3 million is a big chunk of money for an organization that’s currently $7.055 million over the cap. That’s also the kicker, though. The Cowboys aren’t in a terrible spot financially. By releasing Elliott, and restructuring other deals, they’d put themselves in a good position to be able to spend big this offseason.
A cutthroat organization would cut Elliott, but something tells us the player and franchise want to hash out an agreement so that he stays in Dallas for at least one more season. If that’s the case, it better be at a significant discount.