The Dallas Cowboys made the smart business decision to cut Ezekiel Elliott in the offseason. Once June 1 hit, the Cowboys added an additional $10.9 million cap space to bring their total to $21.4 million.
It was an obvious move given Elliott's contract and decline in production. Not to mention, Tony Pollard's rookie contract was expiring. The Cowboys were never going to commit upwards of $20 million to the running back position.
In a perfect world, Dallas would have traded Elliott for a low-round draft pick. Again, the terms of Zeke's contract made that impossible. Now playing for the veteran minimum for the 2-6 Patriots, though, might Elliott pull off the rare feat of netting his current team a draft pick as an aging running back?
That remains to be seen, but RB-needy teams have reportedly reached out to the Patriots about Elliott, per Bleacher Report's Jordan Schultz.
Former Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott drawing interest before NFL trade deadline
Excuse me? Not many teams are in need of running back help, but the Eagles spring to mind after Kenneth Gainwell's disastrous Week 8. While D'Andre Swift is established as Philly's lead back, Gainwell has disappointed as RB2 and free agent pickup Rashaad Penny has been active for one game all season.
Would you put it past Howie Roseman to swap late day-three picks with the Patriots just to have Elliott in time for Week 9 vs the Cowboys? We're obviously just spit-balling, but you can't rule out anything when it comes to Philadelphia.
Elliott only has 260 rushing yards and two TDs this season on 3.9 yards per carry, but he seemingly still has value around the NFL. Teams clearly appreciate what he brings to the table in pass protection, and his punishing rushing style fits perfectly for late-game situations when teams want to milk the clock.
Despite experiencing a decline in athleticism, Elliott remains one of the game's premier red zone backs.
It's not that crazy to think a contender would fork over a sixth- or seventh-round pick (or agree to a late-pick swap) to add some power to its backfield for the stretch run of the regular season. By all accounts, Zeke's had a nice season in New England despite a lack of desired efficiency. He's been one of a few standouts on the Patriots' bottom-ranked offense.
That being said, the Cowboys should steer clear of an Elliott reunion. Though the run game has struggled, that's more of an offensive line issue than a talent issue. Tony Pollard didn't suddenly forget how to run and Rico Dowdle has performed better than expected as the change-of-pace back and he's been a rock in pass pro.
Elliott returning to the Cowboys would be a reversal for the ages, but it's not what this team needs right now. That said, it'll be interesting to see where Elliott lands by the 3 p.m. EST deadline or if he stays put in Foxborough.