Should Cowboys sign cheap Ezekiel Elliott alternative from NFC rival?
By Jerry Trotta
If the Dallas Cowboys are serious about competing for a Super Bowl, they’d part ways with any and all deadwood on the roster. That, unfortunately, includes Ezekiel Elliott after the declining running back looked like a shell of his former self this past season, and posted career lows across the board.
According to a report from The Athletic, scouts and analysts believe Elliott’s burst and acceleration are gone, and that his only chance of not making the league minimum (around $1.165 million), is to stay in Dallas on a reduced salary.
Elliott is adored in the Cowboys building and locker room, and he shares a close relationship with Jerry Jones, but that shouldn’t be enough to save his roster spot if this team is serious about ending its championship drought.
That’s not to say Elliott is the one thing preventing Dallas from reaching the mountaintop, but his contract coupled with his declining production and lack of efficiency aren’t helping the cause, either.
Assuming the Cowboys franchise tag Tony Pollard, they could scour the free agent market for a sidekick to the first-time Pro Bowler.
Would plucking Leonard Fournette make sense for Dallas? PFF’s Marcus Mosher floated the idea on social media, and the more we think about it, the more we like Fournette serving as a chance-of-pace back next to Pollard.
Should the Cowboys sign Leonard Fournette after the Buccaneers released him?
Fournette is admittedly coming off a down year in 2022, but that could be said for the entire Buccaneers offense. He totaled 689 rushing yards on just 3.5 yards per carry to go with three touchdowns. Cowboys fans might see those stats and scoff at the idea of signing the former champ, but he has plenty left in the tank … and it’s not like he’d come in and take the form of a bell-cow back.
Pollard would be the lead guy, and it’s possible Fournette would concede snaps to a potential rookie draft pick.
You might think why not keep Elliott at that point. That’s fair, but Fournette will likely come cheaper given his age (28) and 2022 production.
Not to mention, Fournette is quietly lethal as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. He caught 73 passes for 523 yards and three scores this past season, and notched 69 catches for 454 yards and two scores the previous season. In 2019 with the Jaguars, “Playoff Lenny” caught a whopping 76 passes for 522 yards.
Fournette has a knack for showing up in the playoffs, too, and he has markedly more left on his tires relative to Elliott despite being less than a year older. That can be attributed to the fact Fournette has 1,132 career carries in comparison to Elliott’s 1881.
We’re not banging the table for the Cowboys to sign Fournette, but if Elliott is released and they invest a mid-to-late round pick on a prospect, we can think of worse veterans to bring in as a between-the-tackles and short-yardage specialist who can also spark the passing game.
What say you, Cowboys fans?