Even after drafting Deuce Vaughn, the Dallas Cowboys have a semblance of a need at running back. While Tony Pollard rushed for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns on 5.2 yards per carry last season, there's some skepticism as to whether he can handle the workload of a three-down back.
For his career, Pollard has yet to log more tan 200 carries in a season. He flourished handling 193 attempts in 2022, but it's worth pondering if his efficiency would be sustainable if his workload jumped between 250-300 carries.
Additionally, Pollard is coming off surgery to repair a high-ankle sprain suffered in the Divisional Round loss to the 49ers. He also suffered a fractured fibula in the game, so you can understand why some fans are open to adding another running back.
ESPN NFL writer Bill Barnwell shares that mindset. However, Barnwell doesn't have the Cowboys searching far and wide for a Pollard backup.
In predicting post-NFL draft moves for several teams, Barnwell foresees Dallas re-signing Ezekiel Elliott on a reduced salary.
ESPN predicts the Cowboys will re-sign Ezekiel Elliott
"For a Cowboys team that already had plenty of hesitation about featuring Pollard for more than 30 snaps per game, bringing back Elliott on a cheaper deal would provide security at one of the team's thinnest positions. Pollard is still recovering from the fractured left fibula he suffered during the postseason, so if the Cowboys don't want to rush him back into the lineup in September, Elliott's ability to pass protect and run effectively between the tackles would be a plus for coach Mike McCarthy. If Elliott -- who ran for 876 yards and 12 TDs last season -- is not going to land a deal for more than $5 million somewhere else, why not stay home in Dallas?"- Bill Barnwell
Fans would be hard-pressed to disagree with Barnwell. There's still a logical fit for Elliott on the Cowboys roster. Of course, Elliott would have to be open to playing a reduced role, and former Dallas running backs coach Skip Peete, now with the Buccaneers, alluded to that being the reason Zeke remains unsigned.
Would Elliott return to the Cowboys months after he was released by the franchise? It'd be a weird optic for the former All-Pro, but everyone understands Dallas couldn't justify paying Elliott $11 million and consuming his cap hit.
Whatever the case, there's still a role for Elliott in this offense. The Cowboys haven't exactly moved heaven and earth to replace the 27-year-old. Though his athleticism is declining and his efficiency is hurting as a result, you're still talking about replacing 876 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
Deuce Vaughn will be exciting as a gadget player, but nobody's expecting him to get many carries between the tackles. What about Ronald Jones? His contract is less than $300,000 guaranteed, so he could easily get cut after training camp.
The Cowboys like what they have in Rico Dowdle and Malik Davis, but they don't really move the needle, either.
Maybe Dallas thinks its backfield has enough juice as presently constructed. Or maybe they're just biding time to re-sign Elliott.
We all know what Jerry Jones is rooting for.