The Dallas Cowboys’ offseason is about to kick into high gear. With the franchise tag deadline arriving on Tuesday, and the legal tampering period and official start of free agency coming next week, fans should expect myriad moves from the team over the course of the next several weeks.
Until then, all eyes are on the Cowboys and what they do with Ezekiel Elliott.
Jerry Jones spoke at the Combine and said the money saved by trading Amari Cooper will allow Dallas to keep Elliott and Tony Pollard, who was officially franchise-tagged Monday. Jones doubled down by saying Elliot is still a difference maker when healthy.
Of course, health isn’t the only concern with Zeke. His production has steadily declined in his career, and 2022 was a culmination of that as he posted career lows in yards, yards per game, and yards per rush attempt.
It makes all the sense to release the player with a post-June 1 designation. Is Dallas finally changing their tune on Elliott?
On Sunday, ESPN’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler shared what they were hearing around the league from the Combine, and Graziano came away believing that the Cowboys cutting Elliott is a real possibility.
Cowboys Rumors: Is Dallas planning to release Ezekiel Elliott?
"The Dallas Cowboys’ offense could look a lot different in 2023. They’d save $4.8 million on the cap by releasing running back Ezekiel Elliott ($10.9 million if they designate him as a post-June 1 cut). It would not be surprising to see them make that move, as Elliott has no more guaranteed money left on his contract.”"
It’s important to note that Graziano isn’t just speculating. It doesn’t take a league insider to pinpoint the positives of releasing Elliott. From the moment Elliott signed his extension in 2019, everyone pointed to the 2023 offseason as a potential out for the Cowboys. The fact he has no guaranteed money left is one thing, but his rapidly-declining athleticism makes it somewhat of a no-brainer.
The Combine is a golden time for league executives and player agents to break bread about impending offseason decisions.
Remember, too, that ESPN reported Elliott’s representatives would talk to teams at the Combine to gauge the player’s value. The goal was to determine the market in a deep free agent class at running back, and whether there was a potential big deal waiting for him. At that point, Zeke likely would’ve asked for his release instead of agreeing to a reduced salary with his current team.
It seems as though there’s not a big market for Elliott, and the Cowboys have potentially seen the light.
Anything is possible with Jerry Jones pulling the strings, however. The longtime owner spoke glowingly of Elliott at the Combine. Whether that was posturing so as to not publicly slander the player is open for interpretation, but we’re all aware that Jones is one of Elliott’s biggest supporters.
Nothing is confirmed as of yet, but Graziano’s report does offer some optimism that the Cowboys will release Zeke in the near future.