Cowboys Release Ezekiel Elliott: Post-Zeke RB Options Include Bijan Robinson, Jerick McKinnon, and Others

Cowboys Release Ezekiel Elliott: Post-Zeke RB Options Include Bijan Robinson, Jerick McKinnon, and Others

The Dallas Cowboys are moving on from Ezekiel Elliott, as Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the Cowboys could release Zeke as soon as Wednesday afternoon. Although Dallas still has franchise-tagged Tony Pollard on the roster, they could be in the market for another running back. Now that Elliott is on his way out, let’s run through the options that could appeal to the Cowboys.

Post-Ezekiel Elliott RB Options for the Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys need cap space after acquiring cornerback Stephon Gilmore and his $8 million salary from the Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday. Designating Elliott as a post-June 1 release would save $10.9 million against the cap, although those extra funds wouldn’t be available until June 2.

Pollard will take over as Dallas’ 1A running back, but the Cowboys seem incredibly likely to add another player to their depth chart. Sure, Pollard said he’s capable of doing “whatever they ask me to do” when former Cowboys RBs coach Skip Peete suggested last season that Pollard needed to be limited to 30 plays per game. But given that Malik Davis is the only other running back on Dallas’ roster, they’ll need to bring another option into the fold.

Here are five RBs the Cowboys could consider in the coming days and weeks.

Jamaal Williams

Although he led the NFL with 17 rushing touchdowns in 2022, Jamaal Williams appears set to leave Detroit after the Lions agreed to a three-year, $16 million contract with former Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery. But Detroit’s loss could end up as Dallas’ gain.

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Williams handled 41 carries inside his opponents’ 5-yard line (the most in the league), while Elliott finished third with 26. The pair played a similar role, at least when their offenses reached the red zone. Williams won’t offer much in the passing game, but he finished 11th in rushing success rate last season and could complement Pollard’s strengths while adding leadership in the Cowboys’ locker room.

Jerick McKinnon

Fresh off arguably the best season of his career, Jerick McKinnon is now hitting the free agent market. Playing alongside Patrick Mahomes in 2022, McKinnon posted 803 yards from scrimmage and scored 10 total touchdowns.

McKinnon’s skill set as a receiver overlaps with Pollard’s work in the pass game, but the two can absolutely co-exist. If the Cowboys plan to deploy Pollard more on early downs, he’ll need breathers, allowing McKinnon to take over in obvious passing situations. McKinnon is an excellent pass protector and will likely come relatively cheap entering his age-31 campaign.

Damien Harris

While Damien Harris was a popular name on the trade rumor mill during his time in New England, he ended up playing out his entire four-year rookie contract with the Patriots. But he’d become an afterthought by last season, when Rhamondre Stevenson had largely claimed the Patriots’ starting running back crown.

However, Harris managed 929 yards and 15 touchdowns for New England in 2021, so there is some upside there. He’s a capable, tough runner who could take over Elliot’s goal-line role. Playing behind the Cowboys’ excellent offensive line, Harris could again be a threat for double-digit scores.

D’Onta Foreman

The Carolina Panthers running game somehow improved after they traded Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers, and D’Onta Foreman was a large part of that effort. He crossed the 100-yard threshold five times after Week 7, scoring five touchdowns during that span.

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Foreman is a physical runner who could create a thunder and lighting pairing with Pollard. Carolina has reportedly extended an offer to Foreman, who has indicated he’d like to remain with the Panthers. But given that he attended Texas City High School and the University of Texas, Foreman might be amenable to a proposal from the Cowboys.

Bijan Robinson

Speaking of Longhorn running backs, could the Cowboys keep draft prospect Bijan Robinson in-state by selecting him in the first round? Dallas holds the 25th overall pick, so Robinson might not even be on the board. Trading up for a running back is a risky proposition, but if Robinson happens to fall to the Cowboys, they’d probably consider drafting him.

“Offensively, we’ve just got to have, maybe add a playmaker to it,” Cowboys executive Stephen Jones told ESPN at the Scouting Combine. “Add a little juice. Add a playmaker to it and see if we can do that.”

While Dallas could add a receiver or a tight end in free agency or the draft, another running back could also be in the cards. Robinson, who totaled more than 1,400 scrimmage yards in each of the past two seasons, is a solid receiver who can line up in the slot. Pairing him with Pollard would give the Cowboys all sorts of options, including two-RB “Pony” packages that could put opposing defenses in conflict.