Cowboys must do the right thing and make a clean break with Ezekiel Elliott

For a time, it was believed that the identity of the Dallas Cowboys was Ezekiel Elliott and their dominant offensive line under former head coach Jason Garrett. As soon as Ezekiel Elliott was chosen with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 draft, he was set to be the centerpiece behind the brand of what was commonly referred to as “Cowboys football.”

Almost immediately, Elliott, along with quarterback Dak Prescott, cemented himself as the future of the Dallas Cowboys. With both players in tow, the Cowboys’ plan was clear and direct. Hit opposing defenses with Elliott and their elite offensive offensive line, which would give Prescott the ability to take advantage of stacked boxes with easier passing options.

Although Prescott was emerging as a very good young quarterback, Elliott would serve as an offensive engine early in their careers. When Elliott missed six games in 2017 due to a league suspension, the offense struggled and led many to assume it was Elliott who made the Cowboys offense as powerful as it was. She was, and she was called “the straw that stirs the drink.”

After leading the NFL in rushing in two of its first four seasons, Elliott realized his worth and demanded compensation for his production.

After a long wait that saw Elliott training away from the team in Mexico and controversial comments from Jerry Jones, a deal was finalized. Elliott signed a market-defining six-year, $90 million contract.

Fast forward to the current state of affairs and that contract looks more and more dodgy with each passing season. Since 2019, Elliott’s productivity has declined sharply. Stats such as total yards, yards per carry, and yards received have mostly dropped over the past three years.

Lately, there have been rumors that Elliott would take a pay cut to stay on the team, but that would be a reckless decision to make, and releasing Elliott completely would be the most practical choice to make. Some disagree and believe the situation with Elliott under a reworked contract is salvageable. However, if this is the case, the question that needs to be asked is: does Elliott offer good value even at lower cap fees? Also, what impact does it have on the team insofar as it would be used?

Even on sale, it’s not worth it. The former All-Pro could serve as a useful goal-line runner and was a good pass protector and adequate lead blocker. Also, some fans may be happy with his output last year (876 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns), but overall, the juice isn’t worth even for cheap.

Elliott doesn’t have the explosiveness as a runner to constantly take advantage of available running lanes. It’s also hard to call plays for him that take him down a lateral path to begin with, like counters or throwing plays. This creates an additional handicap. Also, Elliott hasn’t been such a good pass receiver either.

When you look at rushing yards above expectation (RYOE) for Elliott last season, it gives you a clearer barometer as to how far he fell. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, Elliott backs Tony Pollard. However, what is surprising is that Elliott is also behind runners who will be free agents this offseason and who will have much cheaper asking prices, such as D’Onta Foreman and Jeff Wilson Jr.

What is most confusing in all of the circumstances is that Elliott is only 27 and has already been steadily declining for the past three years. The final reason this union between Elliott and the Cowboys must end is the cloud hanging over the offense as a whole and the influence held by the front office to squeeze every penny out of Elliott’s contract in terms of use. .

Remember those words from Jerry Jones because this front office is borderline unreasonably expansive in praising Elliott. It has been expressed that they believe the lion’s share of attacking success in recent years has been linked to Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott’s return in any capacity prompts the front office to insist that Elliott retain significant use even if it’s no longer appropriate. Take Jason Witten for example. Witten, like Elliott, was a fan favorite for many years. An actor in whom the front office has become emotionally invested. So much so that Witten was able to retire abruptly, then cancel his retirement and return to his starting job upon his return.

That’s not who Elliott is, though, he’s a good teammate and he became close friends with Dak Prescott who he entered the league with. All good things come to an end, and it’s hard to break up, especially with those you grew up with and because of.

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