The Dallas Cowboys‘ backfield is going to look a little different in 2023. With the team releasing Ezekiel Elliott earlier this week, former quarterback Troy Aikman and current gunslinger Dak Prescott provided their thoughts on the decision.
Elliott has played a big role in the Cowboys’ offense since the team picked him with the fourth overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. In some regard, it’s the end of an era in Dallas.
“I’m a big fan of Zeke’s. And, I think, regardless of what anyone’s opinion is of him as far as what he was able to do as a running back, I think they’re going to miss one of the real core players in that locker room,” Aikman told reporters. “I always felt, when I was playing, there are guys you just can’t replace. … I really believe Zeke is one of those guys. And I’m not alone. I think the Cowboys understand that, as well.”
Elliott was set to make $10.9 million this season for the Cowboys. Rather than attempt to renegotiate a pay-cut with the running back, the two sides parted ways.
“Zeke’s a guy that, man, he played this game, did everything about this game the right way,” Prescott said. “Had fun, but when it was time to lock in, when it was time to focus and give everything you have … Zeke was the guy to follow. … I can’t imagine him not in the locker room.”
In seven years with the Cowboys, Elliott rushed for 8,262 yards and 68 touchdowns. He totaled just 876 yards in 2022, the lowest total of his career. The running back has earned three Pro Bowl trips in his career.
Dallas Cowboys Place Franchise Tag on Tony Pollard
Everyone could see the writing on the wall when it came to Ezekiel Elliott’s future with the Dallas Cowboys. In early March, the team placed a franchise tag on Tony Pollard. It seemed like the team was ready to make the tough call on Zeke.
Pollard will be playing on a one-year deal under the franchise tag, which is worth $10.1 million. The decision from Dallas indicates the team isn’t too worried about the leg injury he suffered in the playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Pollard put up big numbers for the Cowboys during the 2022 season. He rushed for 1,007 yards and accounted for 12 total touchdowns. He also totaled 371 receiving yards.
Last season was Pollard’s fourth in the NFL. He’s spent his entire career with the Cowboys.