The Dallas Cowboys and countless teams around the NFL started organized team activities this week. While Micah Parsons made a surprise appearance, the team is down one of its former leaders in Ezekiel Elliott, who was released earlier this offseason after seven seasons with the organization.
If we told you when Elliott was released in March that he'd be unsigned through late May, would you have called us crazy? Or would you have said that probably lines up?
Early on in the process, the Eagles, Bengals and Jets were reported as potential destinations for Elliott. That incited panic among Cowboys fans, but it quickly became clear that was a list of Elliott's preferred landing spots.
While the Buccaneers and Chargers have been linked with Elliott, the Browns entered the mix recently as an ideal fit for the veteran back.
A former superstar at Ohio State, returning to his old stomping grounds would be a storybook second chapter of Elliott's career.
Not so fast, though, says Tony Grossi of 850 ESPN Cleveland. Grossi thinks everyone should pump the breaks on Elliott joining the Dawg Pound.
Cowboys Rumors: Browns unlikely to pursue Ezekiel Elliott
Per Grossi, Browns 2022 fifth-round pick Jerome Ford is a big reason why Cleveland likely isn't considering signing Elliott.
"Honestly, I don’t know why fans are so worried about the No. 3 running back. If Nick Chubb misses any games, which is rare, Jerome Ford would be next man up. There is a reason the Browns drafted him last year. Running backs coach Stump Mitchell has said he believes Ford will be an every-down feature back in the NFL. The Browns will find a third back in training camp. The Ezekiel Elliott rumors don’t make sense to me. He’ll probably re-sign with the Cowboys. If there is an injury to Chubb or Ford during the season, there will be a half-dozen veteran backs available. I am way more concerned about the backup offensive tackle situation. That’s the position they still need to bolster."- Tony Grossi
While you can never say never in the NFL, it sounds like the Browns are content entering next campaign with Nick Chubb and Ford as their primary ball-carriers.
Folks have pointed to Cleveland letting Kareem Hunt leave in free agency as a reason why signing Elliott would make sense. That, and the fact they didn't take a running back in April's draft. In reality, though, those decisions were a testament to their conviction in Ford, who showed flashes as a rookie in limited playing time.
A former Alabama transfer, Ford burst onto the scene in his final collegiate season with Cincinnati in 2021. He rushed for 1,319 yards and 19 touchdowns on 6.1 yards per carry and posted a career-high 21 catches for 220 yards and one score as a receiver.
Though Elliott is as accomplished as any back in the league, Grossi's reporting intimates the former All-Pro would be restricted to RB3 duties in Cleveland. While Elliott is declining, he still's plenty good enough to be a high-level backup.
Would a potential marriage make sense for either party?
With Chubb entrenched as maybe the best back in the NFL and Ford seemingly locked in as Cleveland's change-of-pace back, it might be time to add the Browns to the list of teams Elliott won't be joining this offseason.