Why Did the Cowboys Cut RB Ezekiel Elliott?

Why Did the Cowboys Cut RB Ezekiel Elliott?

Ezekiel Elliott was one of the most recognizable and productive players on the Dallas Cowboys. In March, the team decided it was time to move on and released the longtime running back after seven seasons. Elliott took his time to find a new home, and in August, he signed with the New England Patriots.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after Elliott was released, “He wore the Cowboys Star with pride and purpose every single time he put it on, and we’re a better franchise because of the example he set for veterans and rookies alike.”

Elliott had 28 rushes for 122 yards with no touchdowns in three games with the Patriots this season.

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Why Did Ezekiel Elliott Get Cut?

The Cowboys released Elliott because of his salary cap hit, a production drop, and the presence of Tony Pollard. Elliott was set to make $10.4 million with a $16.4 million cap hit this season. The move saved the Cowboys almost $5 million in cap space. Last season, Elliott had 876 rush yards with 3.8 yards per attempt, both career lows. He scored 12 touchdowns, which tied for the second-most in his career.

Elliott averaged 96.5 rush yards per game and scored 40 touchdowns in his first four seasons. His production slightly declined after he made the Pro Bowl three times in his first four seasons. He scored 28 touchdowns in his last three seasons but only averaged 60.8 rush yards per game.

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Pollard had his workload increased in 2022 and made his first career Pro Bowl. He rushed for over 1,000 yards and had 12 total touchdowns. He is in his fifth season with the Cowboys after being drafted in the fourth round out of Memphis.

Pollard suffered a serious leg injury during last season’s playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The Cowboys were comfortable enough with Pollard’s recovery progress to cut Elliott. Pollard is playing the 2023 season under the franchise tag. He can be a free agent after the season unless Dallas applies the franchise tag again.

Elliott’s Success as a Cowboy

Dallas drafted Elliott, who won a national championship with Ohio State, with the fourth pick in 2016. The team picked quarterback Dak Prescott in the fourth round of the same draft. The duo had a lot of individual and team success in seven seasons with the Cowboys.

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Elliott made an instant impact, leading the NFL in rushing in two of his first three seasons. He rushed for career highs with 1631 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2016, helping the Cowboys make the postseason with an 11-5 record. Elliott rushed for 125 yards in a playoff loss to the Packers that season. Elliott finished second in AP Offensive Rookie of the Year voting behind Prescott and fifth in AP MVP voting.

Elliott was suspended six games in 2017 for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. He was still able to rush for 983 yards and seven touchdowns in ten games. The Cowboys went 3-3 without Elliott and missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record.

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Elliott led the league in rushing again in 2018 with 1,434 yards, and the Cowboys returned to the playoffs. Elliott scored the go-ahead touchdown in a win against the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card game but then lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the next round.

Elliott’s 8,262 rush yards and 68 rush touchdowns with the Cowboys rank third-most in franchise history behind Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett.