The Dallas Cowboys acquiring Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks has helped mitigate the sadness stemming from Ezekiel Elliott’s release.
Elliott hopes to sign with a new team by the end of this week, but the three teams he’s purportedly eyeing — the Eagles, Bengals, and Jets — have each come out and dismissed that they’re pursuing the veteran back.
Jerry Jones spoke at the owner’s meetings and didn’t shut the door on Elliott returning if he doesn’t find a new home. That seems unlikely, however, as Jones acknowledged the Cowboys never offered Elliott a pay cut to return before his release.
Not only that, but Elliott’s signature No. 21 jersey is no longer available.
The jersey has been issued to Gilmore, who actually hinted on Instagram that he was eyeing Elliott’s No. 21. Gilmore posted a photo to his story of Deion Sanders, one of his idols and a player former NFL-quarterback-turned analyst Kurt Warner compared him to.
New Cowboys CB Stephon Gilmore will wear Ezekiel Elliott’s No. 21 jersey.
Will it be startling initially watching a non-Elliott player don the No. 21? No doubt, but the adjustment will be fast and furious if Gilmore plays up to his potential. Anyone pushing the narrative that this is a classless or braindead move by Dallas has lost the plot.
The Cowboys have made countless of said moves over the years. This isn’t one of them. Elliott is no longer part of the team.
What is Dallas supposed to do? Hold the jersey until after the draft in the slim chance Zeke re-signs? Or give it to a player who wants the number so they can move forward with the marketing process? It’s not like Elliott is the only great player to ever wear the No. 21.
The Cowboy did right by Elliott throughout his time with the team. Giving away his jersey number, regardless of the time, or lack thereof, that passed since his release, isn’t an act of disrespect. It might expedite the breakup process and shut the door on a potential return, but it’s silly to hold it against them for moving on.
After all, Gilmore’s decision had nothing to do with Elliott.
Further, Elliott tweeted after his release that he wants his college number back. Elliott famously repped No. 15 at Ohio State. These were Elliott’s first public comments since his release.
Ultimately, this is a non-story. If anything, Cowboys fans should be thrilled Elliott’s memory will live on through Gilmore. Dallas doesn’t retire jerseys, and Deion Sanders repped the No. 21 with pride long before Elliott was drafted.