Former NFL GM identifies 'excellent' Ezekiel Elliott replacement for Cowboys

May 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) and running back Nick
May 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) and running back Nick / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone tired of the Ezekiel Elliott discourse yet? Training camp is just a few weeks away and Elliott is still looking for a new home after the Dallas Cowboys released him with a post-June 1 designation back in March.

Every time Jerry Jones, Mike McCarthy or another prominent executive have spoken to reporters they've been asked about Elliott's future.

That won't change until Elliott signs somewhere.

Jones has preached that the ship hasn't sailed on Elliott returning to Dallas on a cheaper deal, but team insiders understand there's been no contact from either side in that regard. That could change as we get closer to training camp, but the Cowboys should be shopping for alternatives in the event Zeke lands somewhere else.

While the Dalvin Cook ship has all but set sail, Cook's former general manager in Minnesota -- Rick Spielman, now with The 33rd Team -- believes the Cowboys should give a long look at free agent Kareem Hunt to fill the Elliott void.

Should the Cowboys sign Kareem Hunt as Ezekiel Elliott's replacement?

Spielman is actually of the mindset that Elliott will re-sign with Dallas. If that doesn't happen, though, he thinks Dallas should make a run at Hunt.

""Hunt’s touches decreased [with the Browns], but he’s still a powerful runner with excellent vision to catch the ball out of the backfield. He had some durability issues last season, so he’ll need to show he can stay healthy because he turns 28 in August ... Hunt is an excellent No. 2 back if he can stay healthy." "

The former Vikings general manager makes some good points, though his concerns about Hunt's durability are overblown. Calf and ankle injuries limited Hunt to eight games in 2021, but he's played two full seasons in the last three years.

The former third round pick has been durable for most of his career, and he's on the younger side for a soon-to-be 28-year-old running back having served as Nick Chubb's backup in Cleveland for the last four years.

In terms of running style, Hunt is an ideal profile to deploy behind Tony Pollard. Like Elliott, Hunt rushes to contact. Despite logging 108 fewer carries than Elliott in 2022, Hunt finished with three fewer explosive runs and eight fewer forced missed tackles. Hunt also averaged more yards after contact per attempt than Elliott.

Hunt isn't a perfect runner -- to say nothing of his history with domestic violence -- but short of signing Dalvin Cook the Cowboys would be hard-pressed to find a better all-around running back on the current market.

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