Given what we’ve seen in Ezekiel Elliott’s game, it’s no surprise that NFL general managers may be hesitant to sign him.
For whatever reason — injuries, too much wear and tear — Elliott isn’t the same runner he was when the Dallas Cowboys selected him with the fourth pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. He’s rushed for 1,000 yards-plus in four of his six seasons, even leading the NFL in two of them. But he hasn’t hit 1,000 in two of his last three years, basically since extending his contract with the Cowboys.
ESPN’s Kimberley A. Martin reported that some GMs are saying that Ezekiel Elliott has lost a step. He’s been on the open market since mid-March, when the Cowboys announced they planned to waive him.
“The market that Elliott wants just may not be there,” Martin reported during a segment on NFL Live. “They (general managers) think he can be productive but that he lost a step.”
Last fall, the Cowboys pushed Tony Pollard ahead of Ezekiel Elliott on the depth chart. Both played, but Elliott was relegated to short-yardage carries. He had a chance to shine in Dallas’ playoff game against the 49ers. Pollard broke his ankle in the first half, so Dallas leaned heavily on Elliott. He carried the ball for only 26 yards. The Cowboys ended their season with a 19-12 loss.
There was buzz that Elliott may end up at Tampa Bay. He’d join Skip Peete, his old running backs coach with the Cowboys. But Peete recently said that Zeke needed to scale back his expectations.
“I think that’s part of the reason he’s sitting out there,” Peete told reporters. “If you’re going to play, I mean, you’re going to be the second and third guy. That’s kind of what the price is. So. that’s something that a person has to be able to see that that is what it is going to be.”
Peete described the 27-year-old Elliott as “still a good, quality running back.” And yes, he still believes Elliott did a terrific job in “short and goal-line places” last season. Maybe another team has room for Ezekiel Elliott, if he’s willing to accept diminished responsibilities.
There’s a chance that Elliott can come back to the Cowboys. He’s third on the team’s all-time rushing list behind Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett. But he’ll need to take a pay cut. The Cowboys can’t afford the $10.9 million salary. Plus, the team selected Kansas State All-American all-purpose back Deuce Vaughn, whose dad works for the team.
“Ship has not sailed,” Jones told reporters about Elliott. “We haven’t made a decision. We’ve obviously drafted a running back, a little different style than Zeke, but it doesn’t change … For us, as far as our interest in Zeke, nothing we did today changes that.”