Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott reunion looks a lot better after Dalvin Cook update

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Buffalo Bills v New York Jets / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys will hopefully look to add another running back before the start of the regular season. They clearly believe that rolling out a more physical offensive line is more important than starting a household RB -- like Derrick Henry -- which would explain why they signed Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott doesn't move the needle for many Cowboys fans, but he was one of the top backs available when he signed. That doesn't excuse Dallas from passing on cheaper free agents like Aaron Jones, Zack Moss and Devin Singletary, but it says a lot that they've flipped how they value the position.

In a vacuum, signing Elliott was a solid move, if not an unspectacular one. Elliott was one of two running backs that piqued the Cowboys' interest: vet Dalvin Cook was the other, per the Dallas Morning News.

Elliott and Cook are both past their respective primes, but the former is clearly the superior back despite being drafted a year earlier. The fact Cook hasn't so much has taken a free agent visit confirms that Dallas was smart to pass on the 28-year-old.

Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott reunion looks better after Dalvin Cook update

Over the weekend, Cook revealed he's "taking calls" and exercising "patience" with the anticipation of getting signed in the near future.

"Getting ready for training camp, getting ready for what’s coming up next. For me, like you said, patience is the key. Right now the only thing I’m really focusing on is getting myself in tip-top shape to really tote the rock come the fall."

Dalvin Cook

Time will tell how Elliott performs this season, but passing on Cook was arguably a bigger victory than inking the two-time rushing champ to an incentive-laden contract. After the Cowboys hired Mike Zimmer as their new defensive coordinator, Cook was seemingly angling for a move to Dallas to reunite with former Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.

Not long after former Vikings teammate Eric Kendricks signed with the Cowboys, Cooks followed multiple Cowboys personalities on social media. He was even caught liking posts from prominent Cowboys insiders, including Jane Slater of NFL Media and Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News.

It would have been easy for Dallas to take the bait and fall for Cook's resume as a four-time Pro Bowler. Cook ranks fourth in rushing yards since the 2018 season behind Elliott, Nick Chubb and Derrick Henry, respectively. However, it's been years since Cook was an efficient ball-carrier.

In 2022, Cook's 72.1 rushing grade ranked 33rd out of 41 qualified running backs, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). This past season, Cook ranked dead-last in EPA per rush and second-to-last in rushing yards after contact per carry and yards created per rush.

Even with 716 (!!) more carries on his tires than Cook, Elliott was markedly better in every category in both campaigns. That's not to say prime Zeke will return in 2024, but the Cowboys undoubtedly got it right by choosing the former fourth overall pick over Cook.

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