They say if you love something, set it free. Unfortunately, Jerry Jones doesn’t subscribe to that narrative.
On Wednesday, Jerry and Stephen Jones met with media members at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. During that session, they both made it clear they’d like Ezekiel Elliott back on the team next season. Stephen even went as far to say he saw no dropoff in Elliott’s 2022 season.
This shouldn’t be too surprising considering the soft spot Jerry has always had for Zeke. But that certainly doesn’t make it the correct decision.
It’s time to rip the Ezekiel Elliott band aid
Elliott’s production has declined in recent seasons:
- 2019: 301 carries for 1,357 yards and 54 receptions for 420 yards (16 games)
- 2020: 244 carries for 979 yards and 52 receptions for 338 yards (15 games)
- 2021: 237 carries for 1,002 yards and 47 receptions for 287 yards (17 games)
- 2022: 231 carries for 876 yards and 17 receptions for 92 yards (15 games)
Zeke has carved out a role as one of the NFL’s top short yardage backs. His 10 rushing TDs in 2021, and 12 rushing TDs in 2022 back that up. But that, and pass blocking, is all Elliott can contribute these days.
He’s not a reliable option in the passing game. He’s lost his burst of speed, and is only effective running between offensive linemen. This limited Kellen Moore’s ability to call outside runs when Zeke was in the game.
Elliott will account for a $16.7 million cap hit in 2023. While there have been reports of Elliott agreeing to a restructured team-friendly contract, even that wouldn’t make his production worthy of a roster spot.
If the Cowboys cut Zeke before June 1st, $10.9 million in cap space would be freed up. That’s enough money to sign Tony Pollard to a franchise tag, sign a free agent RB or draft a rookie.
The Jerry Jones and Ezekiel Elliott love saga
Before the 2022 season kicked off, Jerry was quoted as saying “We go as Zeke goes.” Meaning the offense still runs through Elliott.
That simply wasn’t the case once the year got going. Pollard recorded better numbers in almost every statistical category. The only area they tied in was total TDs; both players had 12.
Jerry has always shown Zeke endless amounts of love, and it was deserved early in Elliott’s career. He led the league in rushing in two of his first three seasons, and was a two-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler.
One day when he leaves the team or retires, he’ll be revered as an all-time great Cowboys RB. He ranks third in rushing yards and rushing TDs in Cowboys history.
But his best days are behind him. If Jerry is serious about bringing a Super Bowl back to Dallas, he needs to put personal agendas aside and make decisions that are best for the team.