Ezekiel Elliott is one of the top running backs in the NFL, and he’s only 23 years old. The Dallas Cowboys picked him with the 4th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft — out of Ohio State — and he’s since established himself as a star running back. Elliott led the league in rushing in the 2018 season, with 1434 yards, a result which was more than 100 yards ahead of the second-pace rusher, the New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley.
However, a new report indicates that the Cowboys might not be assuming that they’ll have Elliott on their team for the long haul.
Per Pro Football Talk‘s Mike Florio, “it’s really not crazy to think about whether the Cowboys are thinking about applying the DeMarco Murray approach to Elliott, chewing him up, spitting him out, and then moving on.”
Murray was a Cowboys running back who played four years with the club, and was the leading rusher in the NFL during the 2014 season. But the Cowboys let Murray leave as a free agent after that year. He then signed with the rival Philadelphia Eagles, and was never a dominant player again.
The evidence for this potentiality, according to the story, is that the Cowboys drafted running back Tony Pollard in the fourth round of last week’s NFL Draft. The team’s CEO compared the way the Cowboys plan to use Pollard and Elliott together to the New Orleans Saints’ sharing of running back duties between Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. After two years of that, Florio points out, Ingram departed New Orleans — signing this offseason with the Baltimore Ravens — leaving the younger player as the main running back on the team.
Elliott has two more years remaining on his rookie contract, unless he signs an extension with the Cowboys. The team could apply the franchise tag to him after the 2020 season in order to keep him from leaving as a free agent. The team’s quarterback, Dak Prescott, is also possibly in line for a new contract.
Until they pay him, it's not crazy to think that the Cowboys may be thinking about a future without Ezekiel Elliott https://t.co/gzIYAkhrXL
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) April 30, 2019
The regime that drafted Elliott — coach Jason Garrett and the front office led by owner Jerry Jones and his son, CEO Stephen Jones — remains in place in Dallas.
“Although it’s hard to imagine Elliott playing elsewhere, the Cowboys may not be able to pay everyone,” Florio writes.
Florio has developed a reputation for delivering speculation and prognostication with mixed results, often being accused of being wrong as often as he is proven right.