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Mailbag: Bring Back Hitchens? Pay Cut For Zeke?

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As I'm sure you saw, Anthony Hitchens was released by Kansas City this week. Do you think the Cowboys would have any serious interest in bringing him back, even if it were financially possible? – FRED LONDON / MORRISTOWN, TN

David: That conversation always comes down to price for me. Hitchens played well during his four years in Kansas City, but clearly not at the $9 million price point. He's also turning 30 this summer. If he wants to re-sign with his original team at a veteran discount – as in $3-4 million per year or less – I'd be interested. But I also have no problem getting younger and cheaper via the NFL draft.

Rob: Can't say I know a ton about Hitchens' production in Kansas City last season, but overall he was a reliable player for the Chiefs just like he was here for four seasons (2014-17). It's something to consider, and I'm sure the Cowboys will do their homework because linebacker depth is a sneaky need, especially if Leighton Vander Esch isn't back. Like Dave said, every decision this offseason has to be with cap space in mind, though.

I love Zeke and his competitive spirit. I still have fond memories of a family celebration as he put the nails in the Steeler coffin his rookie year. However, it's a new day, and here we are, saddled with a contract that has not matched production. Do you think it's possible that the Jones boys approach Elliott and give him the old "pay cut now or cut outright" ultimatum? – KEN SITLER / PAPILLION, NE

David: Even if they wanted to do that, the Cowboys' front office has nothing in the way of leverage in that situation. Zeke's 2022 salary became fully guaranteed last March. If the Cowboys were to cut him, he'd hit their salary cap for $30 million and wouldn't save them any money. For better or for worse, he's not going anywhere this year. Starting in 2023, that conversation could change, depending on how he plays this coming season.

Rob: Yeah, Zeke's salary for 2022 is already guaranteed, so your question is a non-starter. I do think it's worth noting that in the first five games, before his right knee started bothering him, he averaged 90.4 yards and 5.3 yards a carry in a timeshare with Tony Pollard. They were a very effective tandem early on. I'd like to see that again with a healthy Zeke and the offensive line creating more space up front than the last stretch of 2021.

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