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Ezekiel Elliott Officially Released After 7 Seasons 


FRISCO, Texas – The run is over for Ezekiel Elliott. 

And what a ride it has been over the last seven years for one of the greatest running backs in Cowboys history. 

But the team said goodbye to Zeke on Wednesday, officially releasing him on the first day of the NFL free-agent signing period. The move is classified as a "Post June 1 Cut" meaning the team will save over $11 million on the 2023 salary cap, although the savings won't hit the cap until the start of June. 

Elliott's numbers on the field have declined over the last few years, at least in terms of rushing yards. He finished 2022 with 876 rushing yards, but still had 12 rushing touchdowns, including a streak of 10 straight games this past season.

However, Elliott's carries were diminished especially with the emergence of Tony Pollard, who finished with a career-high 1,007 rushing yards and earned his first Pro Bowl selection. The Cowboys issued the franchise tag to Pollard, which will either guarantee his 2023 salary at $10.1 million unless they sign him to a long-term contract. Either way, Pollard's price tag was too hefty to have alongside of Elliott, who was scheduled to count $16.7 million on the cap, including a $10.9 million base salary. 

With that base now off the books, Zeke will still count $4.8 million based off the prorated signing bonus.

While the two sides likely talked about a reduced salary, it still would likely be too much for a backup running back. Last season, the average salary for No. 2 running backs was less than $2 million per season. 

And with Pollard currently on a one-year franchise tag, expect the Cowboys to target running backs in the draft, perhaps as high as the first round. 

That's something the Cowboys haven't done, or needed to do, since taking Elliott with No. 4 overall pick back in 2016. That's the same season they landed Dak Prescott late in the fourth round. And while Dak won Rookie of the Year that season, even the quarterback himself has said much of the credit that year should've gone to Zeke, who rushed for 1,631 yards and carried the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and spot in the NFC Divisional Round. In fact, the Cowboys lost only two games that season when Zeke played. 

But off-the-field issues from a prior incident before he was drafted, surfaced in 2017 and Zeke was suspended for six games. He still managed to rush for 983 yards. 

His numbers rose again the following years as Zeke produced Pro Bowl seasons in 2018 and 2019 when he rushed for 1,434 yards and 1,357 yards the next two seasons. 

And even though he's fallen off some over the years, he still finishes his time with the Cowboys with the third-most rushing yards with 8,262, trailing only Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett.

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