Presented by

Mailbag: Expecting Ezekiel Elliott Back in 2023?


Jerry and Stephen Jones both said from the Senior Bowl last week that they wanted Ezekiel Elliott back. I know he's a fan favorite and popular among teammates, but given his salary and the decrease in his production last season, is this the right move? – Derek Sanders/Austin, TX

Nick: There's a ton of hypotheticals in here. For Zeke to be back, yes there will probably be a salary decrease and his role will likely change as well. But even with that a reduction in salary – something both sides will have to agree to – it still seems difficult figuring out his role. We're expecting Tony Pollard to be re-signed or given the franchise tag and I'd also imagine a running back will be drafted, rather high. So if those two things happen, it's hard to see a role for Zeke, even at a lower price. Depending on where they draft a back, but I'd think he would be the No. 2. So even if Zeke is the third, it's probably a little too expensive for someone who probably won't be play special teams. So I say all of that to say, that right now it seems like it'll be a challenge to have him back, but again, that's without knowing what the price will be. The Cowboys say there is a value in what he brings to the team with his leadership, experience, grit and toughness. I guess we'll find out what the price will be.

Kurt: What didn't make the headlines from the Joneses' meeting last week with reporters was a quote by Stephen: "You always want Zeke, but do the numbers work?" There's no question that Elliott's statistics have dropped, although that's not necessarily a knock on him. He's always brought 100 percent effort to the game, been respected in the locker room and is undoubtedly one of the best rushers in franchise history. Still, given the wear and tear that comes from playing running back, a massive rebound at this point in his career would seem unlikely. So as much as they may want to keep him, if Elliott isn't willing to accept a (significant) pay cut and a reduced role, then moving on is probably best. There is an argument to be made that this contract was bad from the get-go, although I admittedly tend to lean toward not spending big at the position. With that said, the Cowboys simply can't afford to keep hamstringing their roster in other places with money spent here. And truth be told, that may go for the now injured Tony Pollard as well.

Related Content