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Offseason | 2024

Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott reunite for 2024 season


FRISCO, Texas — He's back. There's no need to check the date on your calendar because it is indeed 2024 and, yes, Ezekiel Elliott is preparing to suit up for the Dallas Cowboys — the two sides agreeing to terms on a deal for the 2024 season that will help stabilize the team's depth chart at running back.

"We are keenly interested in seeing what the future might look like with Zeke," said owner and general manager Jerry Jones following Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft.

It's a depth chart that, to now, has been slathered with question marks following the departure of Tony Pollard in free agency and the amount of unproven, inexperienced young talent behind Rico Dowdle, who re-signed this offseason on a one-year deal.

The deal came together over the past several days but communications have existed for several weeks (if not longer), the door always being open for Elliott to walk back through it as early as this season.

A steak dinner last week helped to seal the deal, as did the Cowboys exiting this year's draft without selecting a running back — a decision that was also, though not entirely, rooted in their belief in Elliott's looming return.

Having been released by the Cowboys following the 2022 season in a move that was entirely predicated upon a salary cap crunch, Elliott changed his jersey to No. 15 — an homage to his dominance at Ohio State — and signed on with the New England Patriots, where he had a solid campaign that produced 955 yards from scrimmage with five touchdowns in five starts.

His 235 touches last season for Bill Belichick proves the 28-year-old still has plenty of tread left on his tires.

Do the Cowboys believe Elliott can still be a starter in the NFL?

"Yes, yes," said Jones.

Considering none of the Cowboys' eight draft picks garnered them a running back, Elliott reacquiring the role of RB1 in Dallas is all but promised.

He began his first stint with the Cowboys as their fourth-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, bucking the trend around the league in regards to the downturn of valuation at the running back position. He'd fire out of the gate in his first year out of Ohio State, earning PFWA All-Rookie Team honors before going on to ultimately garner three Pro Bowl nods and honors as a two-time All-Pro.

Also a two-time NFL rushing champion, Elliott helped quarterback Dak Prescott elevate the Cowboys' offense to recent familiar heights, all while being one of the most durable players in the league.

And when he did suffer injury, e.g., torn PCL in 2021, he often gutted through it to remain available — a testament to his gritty resolve and leadership — still surpassing the 1,000-yard mark that season.

In all, Elliott rushed for a total of 8,262 yards and 68 touchdowns, third to only Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett, while having surpassed Dorsett in average rushing yards per game (80.2).

"Zeke is, as we all know, is one of our favorites," said executive vice president and director of player personnel Stephen Jones. "He's laid it on the line for this franchise. He's the ultimate competitor and we obviously think a lot of him."

Equally important, and arguably more so, has been his continued dedication to the local community in Dallas through his work with The Salvation Army and "For Oak Cliff"— the latter being a local charity created to help underprivileged and underserved youth in Southwest Dallas.

Though his football talents were being utilized in New England last season, Elliott never wavered in his community service in a city he still views as the center of his heart.

"Dallas is definitely home to me," Elliott said last September. "Most of my family is already in Dallas."

And now it's time for his homecoming dance.

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