NFL coach offers blunt explanation for why Ezekiel Elliott is unsigned

NFL coach offers blunt explanation for why Ezekiel Elliott is unsigned

Former Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has been available in NFL free agency for two months with limited interest shown in the former rushing yards leader. As the 27-year-old awaits an opportunity with a new team, one of his former coaches offered a blunt explanation for why he hasn’t been signed.

Elliott, entering his age-28 season, became expendable for Dallas. The Cowboys released him for cap savings, but also saw an opportunity to add a more dynamic running back to pair with Tony Pollard. While there were initially rumors that Elliott might sign quickly, he hasn’t even visited with a team since his release.

  • Ezekiel Elliott career stats: 8,262 rushing yards, 68 rushing touchdowns, 4.4 yards per carry

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In an interview with Kristie Ackert of the Tampa Bay Times, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers running backs coach Skip Peete explained that part of the reason Elliott remains unsigned is that he hasn’t accepted that he can no longer be a starter and must settle for a part-time role.

“I think that’s part of the reason he’s sitting out there. If you’re going to play, I mean, you’re going to be the second and third guy. That’s kind of what the price is. So. that’s something that a person has to be able to see that that is what it is going to be.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running backs coach Skip Peete on Ezekiel Elliott

Related: Best landing spots for Ezekiel Elliott

  • Ezekiel Elliott stats (2022): 876 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns, 3.8 yards per carry
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Peete, who served as the Cowboys running backs coach from 2020-’22, noted that Elliott is still a quality running back and can play an effective role in the league. Specifically, he views him as a short-yardage back who can thrive in a committee.

Based on the comments Peete made, Elliott isn’t yet ready to accept the role NFL teams have for him. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Elliott averaged 330 touches per season from 2016-’20 and recorded a 4.5 yards per carry average. In 2022, Dallas shifted him into a complementary role and he turned 231 touches into just 876 rushing yards, a 3.8 yards per carry average.

Until Elliott is ready to adjust his mindset to a more limited role, likely receiving fewer than 150 carries per season, he’ll likely remain a free agent. If he follows the advice of his former coach, though, multiple NFL teams will likely be interested.