Forgotten fact from Ezekiel Elliott’s release makes reunion interest more pathetic

Divisional Round - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys
Divisional Round - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys / Joe Robbins/GettyImages

There's still time for the Dallas Cowboys to salvage the damage they've caused this offseason, but hope is fading fast. Will a potential reunion with Ezekiel Elliott restore fans' confidence and spirit? That's open for interpretation, but it seems to be a real possibility according to the latest buzz.

Per Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys want to add to their running back room before the 2024 NFL Draft. Two names to watch in that regard are Elliott and Dalvin Cook, who played under Dallas defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer four five seasons on the Vikings.

This isn't the first time this offseason that an Elliott reunion has been floated. At the start of free agency, DallasCowboys dot com revealed on the "Cowboys Break" podcast that Elliott to Dallas has real legs. Walker added that the team and player have a positive relationship and dialogue between the sides has remained open as Zeke weighs his options on the market.

Re-signing Elliott would do little to move the needle, however, and a forgotten fact from his release last March makes Dallas' interest all the more pathetic.

The Cowboys are already paying Ezekiel Elliott in 2024.

Yes, the Cowboys are already paying Zeke next season. They're still on the hook for $6 million in dead money stemming from his release. Designated as a post-June. 1 cut, Elliott's unceremonious departure saved Dallas $10.9 million on the salary cap. In doing so, they agreed to take $6 million on the chin this year.

That financial reality makes an Elliott reunion more likely. While it would be great to see Elliott back home and rocking a star on his helmet, signing him might not be in the Cowboys' best interest. The terms "washed up" and "cooked" are thrown around loosely, but Elliott's been on a steady decline for five years.

His yards per carry has decreased every season since 2021 and he's posted a lowly 3.65 yards per attempt over the last two seasons.

In 2023, Elliott's 69.2 rushing grade ranked 31st of 35 qualified running backs, per Pro Football Focus. He also placed 29th in yards after contact per carry, 32nd in missed tackles forced and 34th in rushes of 10 or more yards.

It's duly noted that Zeke wouldn't be the Cowboys' primary back in 2024. A rookie will presumably carry that mantle, but it's fair to question how much value he'd bring. Dallas sorely missed Elliott in short-yardage work and at the goal line, but the relentless Rico Dowdle could seemingly handle that role.

Who knows how it would shake out, but the fact the Cowboys are already paying Elliott makes their reunion interest so much more pathetic.

In hindsight, all of us should've seen it coming.

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