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Cowboys’ signing Ezekiel Elliott has potential to bring solid value for the cost



Cowboys’ signing Ezekiel Elliott has potential to bring solid value for the cost

In what’s turn into a endless dialog over the previous decade, the Dallas Cowboys’ dealing with of the working again place has been within the highlight once more this offseason. The previous week, it felt inevitable that the Cowboys would draft a working again. Three days of the draft glided by, and essentially the most notable working again information was the Cowboys’ heightened curiosity in re-signing 2016 first-round choose, Ezekiel Elliott.

Monday, the workforce adopted by. Elliott is again in Dallas on a one-year deal for a reported $3 million, with $2 million assured. It’s considerably of a lightning-rod transfer however one which’s … not unhealthy?

Look, Jerry Jones and the Cowboys’ entrance workplace have finished a lot to create the fan base’s negativity — the criticism is usually with benefit. Dallas has not dealt with the working again place completely this offseason. Tony Pollard walked in free company and signed a three-year deal for $24 million with the Tennessee Titans. For the overwhelming majority, there have been no qualms with that call, particularly after Pollard’s efficiency final season. However the Cowboys might have kicked the tires on a veteran in free company.

A number of waves of free company got here and went, and the Cowboys did nothing. Lastly, they signed Royce Freeman, who’s hardly assured a spot on the ultimate roster. Seven rounds of the draft handed. Dallas didn’t choose a working again.

Because the finish of the DeMarco Murray period, the Cowboys have lived on extremes at working again.

They went with a committee of Joseph Randle and Robert Turbin with Darren McFadden because the bell cow (1,089 speeding yards) in 2015 after Murray’s departure. That speeding assault, particularly for Jason Garrett’s preferences, left a variety of meat on the bone, so the Cowboys overreacted and chosen Elliott with the No. 4 choose of the 2016 draft. When Elliott held out in 2019, the Cowboys blinked first and handed him one of many richest working again offers in NFL historical past. As soon as they parted methods with Elliott final spring, they performed Pollard on the franchise tag, well avoiding a long-term mistake as they did with Elliott however nonetheless making Pollard one of many prime earners within the league on the place.

Ezekiel Elliott ran for 8,262 yards and 68 touchdowns in his first seven seasons within the NFL with the Cowboys. (Tim Heitman / USA Right this moment)

The working again place has fallen off a cliff in immediately’s NFL. Groups which have gained Tremendous Bowls lately have finished so with the likes of Isiah Pacheco, Cam Akers, Leonard Fournette (in his reclamation years), Damien Williams and Sony Michel because the face of their working again rooms. Preserve going again and it’s a lot of the identical. You don’t want Emmitt Smith and Terrell Davis carrying the rock to raise the Lombardi anymore.

To have a levelheaded strategy to this transfer, one should verify prior biases on the door. For most individuals, the adverse emotions that got here to thoughts about Elliott at any time when he was talked about from 2019 by 2022 needed to do together with his contract. As a teammate, particularly after he labored by a number of the immaturity of his earlier years, Elliott was nice. As a participant, he was diminished however nonetheless a succesful working again who might match into an NFL backfield.



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In 2022, Elliott’s last season in Dallas, he averaged 3.8 yards per carry, dipping beneath the 4-yard mark for the primary time in his profession. Final yr in New England, that dropped to three.5 yards per try and a profession low in yards for the season with 672. It’s been a far cry from the best way Elliott’s profession started. He topped 1,300 speeding yards with a minimum of 4.5 yards per carry in three of his first 4 seasons.

Now, his contract traces up with who Elliott is as a participant. Getting his management and veteran presence in a younger room is a bonus. That he’s in favor with a variety of the important thing playmakers on the workforce, together with the beginning quarterback, doesn’t harm.

Ezekiel Elliott: 2-season snapshot




















The one slight purple flag is Jones’ assertion and perception that Elliott is a beginning, RB1 again within the league. However the contract Elliott acquired speaks for itself, and given the supply, that analysis of Elliott’s skills was in all probability simply as a lot a advertising and marketing technique to promote to the followers because it was an trustworthy analysis of expertise. Mike McCarthy could by no means say it publicly, however he’s seen Elliott’s drop in expertise as carefully as anyone. Teaching in a contract yr, it might be shocking if McCarthy channeled utilization of any participant to guard emotions.

No matter Elliott’s output final season — towards the tip of the yr, which Jones mysteriously pointed to as a supply of encouragement, or holistically — Elliott does carry worth to the Cowboys’ offense. He’s a sensible participant who needs to be strong in cross safety and probably nice in short-yardage conditions. The offensive line in entrance of him is shaping as much as a minimum of be formidable. Possibly Elliott even breaks off the occasional run to the third stage, although greater than probably, it’ll be some mixture of Rico Dowdle, Malik Davis, Freeman or Deuce Vaughn doing that half.



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The Cowboys’ offense doesn’t have ambiguity to it prefer it did in 2019. This offense, for higher or worse, runs by Dak Prescott’s proper arm and CeeDee Lamb’s palms. Prescott isn’t rocking a $60 million cap hit to take a backseat to a working sport anymore. Even with a struggling unit final yr, Prescott was the NFL’s MVP runner-up and Lamb among the best receivers (to not point out the emergence of Jake Ferguson). The Cowboys boast a full-fledged passing offense that wants the working sport to point out up situationally.

Elliott is able to doing that.

One can argue that drafting Elliott as excessive because the Cowboys did in 2016 was a mistake. Giving Elliott an enormous extension in 2019 definitely was a mistake, one the Cowboys are nonetheless paying for with a $6 million useless cap hit in 2024. These had been yesterday’s errors. Right this moment, bringing in Elliott is ok. It’s not improbable and it’s not terrible; in contrast to the Cowboys’ strategy to the working again place, it’s someplace within the center.

(High photograph of Elliott: Dustin Bradford / Getty Pictures)

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