Ezekiel Elliott may have played his last down for the Dallas Cowboys. The seven-year veteran and two-time rushing champion is a cap casualty, spurred on by the trade for Stephon Gilmore. How much does Elliott have left in the tank, and would he want to play anywhere else after a successful career in Dallas?
Dallas saves $10.9 million against the 2023 cap if Elliott is released as a post-June 1 designation, which puts them further into positive cap space. The Cowboys needed the room with the Gilmore trade becoming official today and Terence Steele’s second-round tender becoming active.
Ezekiel Elliott Landing Spots
Elliott doesn’t have much left in the tank. It’s been quite some time since he did. The Cowboys’ running back was the best in the game over his first three seasons. However, the nature of the position and Dallas’ excessive use of Elliott cut short his longevity.
He was a warrior for the Cowboys, often playing with far greater ailments than his injuries were reported. Elliott’s burst was the first thing to go, but that doesn’t mean he can’t contribute to a team in a limited role if the price is right.
Until he officially inks a deal to play elsewhere, I wouldn’t completely count out a reunion with Dallas. He and Dak Prescott are incredibly close; Elliott has already made over $70 million in career earnings and may feel comfortable in DFW on a veteran minimum contract.
While it would behoove Buffalo to find a high-caliber talent at the position who can be a weapon in the run game, Elliott still has his own benefits. First, he’s an outrageous blocker. Elliott’s one of the best backs we’ve seen as a pass protector, and he’s practically a fullback as a lead blocker in the run game.
Standing beside and blocking for Josh Allen behind a somewhat underwhelming offensive line is enough to justify a veteran minimum contract. And while he doesn’t have the burst or contact power he used to, Elliott can still gut things out in short-yardage situations.
The Bengals are already down Samaje Perine, and Joe Mixon could also be on the move from Cincinnati. While at the NFL Combine, Duke Tobin seemed unsure about Mixon’s future.
“He’s been a successful part of our team. Again, I won’t predict the offseason because I don’t have the answers. In the words of the great Kevin Malone, ‘I don’t know.'”
Elliott certainly wouldn’t be the Bengals’ primary ball carrier. Still, like in Buffalo, he could play a crucial role as a pass protector behind an offensive line that has been suspect since Joe Burrow entered the league. Protecting Burrow is priority No. 1, and Elliott helps facilitate that.
Los Angeles Chargers
Just last August, Kellen Moore talked about how the Cowboys could feature Elliott. Adding him to the roster in Los Angeles as someone who is such a good pass protector wouldn’t be a crazy idea.
“We can feature [Elliott] in a lot of different ways. We all recognize what he does in the passing game because of his protection ability. Don’t ever underestimate that, especially with Zeke.”
If the Chargers trade Austin Ekeler, they’d be left with a depth chart of Joshua Kelley, Isaiah Spiller, and Larry Rountree III. Running backs don’t matter, but actively avoiding good players at the position would be an idiotic team-building process. Although Elliott is no spring chicken, his contribution to the passing attack is clear.