Cowboys officially sign Ezekiel Elliott after striking out on RB in NFL Draft

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys shockingly didn't come away from the NFL Draft with a running back. A reunion with Ezekiel Elliott reunion has been in the cards for weeks, but that was never expected to determine whether the Cowboys would take a RB with one of their eight picks.

Well, less than 48 hours after the sun set on the draft, the Cowboys made it official: Elliott is returning to his old stomping grounds. The deal is pending a physical. ESPN's Todd Archer added it's a one-year deal for Zeke.

Pelissero added that the "wheels were in motion" regarding Elliott's return to Dallas last week, and that was reflected by the team not taking a running back. That makes it sound like the Cowboys didn't target a RB in the draft because Zeke's return was imminent.

Jerry Jones said during the draft that Elliott is still capable of leading a backfield. Based on those comments and Dallas' draft, it sounds like the team is prepared to give Zeke all the work he can handle.

Cowboys officially sign Ezekiel Elliott following NFL Draft

A silver lining? Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News noted that the Cowboys' running back room "still has room to evolve." That would hint that Dallas isn't done adding to its backfield. That would be a smart decision. Despite what Jones thinks, Elliott's days as a lead back are behind him.

Elliott actually led the Patriots with 642 rushing yards last season. Starter Rhamondre Stevenson missed five games due to injury, but there were large stretches when Elliott was the superior back, even if Stevenson was more elusive.

Still, Elliott's 3.5 yards per carry were tied for last with Josh Jacobs among RBs who logged at least 180 carries. His yards per carry has declined in each of the last three seasons, dropping from 4.2 in 2021 to 3.8 in 2022 and 3.5 last season.

Now 28 years old, Elliott is a beloved player in Cowboys history. His return will offer a nostalgia factor and a feel-good ending after he was released last March. A two-time rushing champion in Dallas, Elliott still offers value in pass protection and his nose for the end zone is still among the best at the position.

Elliott was already counting $6 million in dead money against the salary cap. Even though he's expected to sign a cheap deal, the terms of said contract will add to that.

With Rico Dowdle, Royce Freeman, Malik Davis and Deuce Vaughn as his current competitors for snaps, it seems that the Cowboys will embrace the "Feed Zeke" mentality in 2024 just as they did for seven years from 2016-22.

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