PHOENIX — Ezekiel Elliott was officially released by the Cowboys on March 15, just a few minutes after the start of the new-league year.
But his name has resurfaced quite a bit here at the league meetings in Arizona, as Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones and Mike McCarthy have all been interviewed by reporters for the first time since free agency began.
And all three have been complimentary about Zeke, with Jerry Jones even stating that he would not officially take a potential return by Zeke "off the table."
But the Cowboys never made an official offer to Zeke to redo his contract.
Jerry Jones even quipped, "Zeke gave us everything he had and more. And we gave him everything we had and more. So that's the way you'd like to end it."
COO Stephen Jones said the reasoning came down to respect.
"When you've got players and we've had them over the years, whether it's Emmitt Smith, whether it's a DeMarcus Ware … these type of players you've got such respect for everything that they've done for your organization," Jones said. "Sometimes, the best thing is to let them get a feel for what the market is. The last thing we want to do is do anything that would be insulting to a player to a great player, like Zeke, who was one of the best players to ever put on cowboys uniform, and he gave us everything he had. Great competitor and wishing nothing but the best if it turns out he didn't return. But we never rule anything out around here. But yeah, there are sensitivities when you get into making offers."
Currently, Elliott has not signed with another team despite media reports that he's received some interest with other teams.
With the Cowboys, he was set to $16.7 million on the cap in 2023. His release, which was designated as a post-June 1 cut, means the Cowboys will save nearly $11 million this year, although those savings won't hit the cap until June 1.
Elliott is the third-leading rusher in Cowboys history with 8,262 yards, behind only Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett. Zeke had a career-low in rushing this past season with 875 yards, although he did have 12 touchdowns, including a 10-game streak in the regular season.