The Dallas Cowboys are stuck in a difficult situation with Ezekiel Elliott, and it doesn’t seem like the NFL will be able to find a resolution anytime soon.
The Dallas Cowboys are stuck with the problem of Ezekiel Elliott. Mike Florio envisions that the NFL will not be able to find a way to punish the running back for his six-game suspension, which is currently being appealed.
We have some terrible news for Dallas Cowboys supporters who want Ezekiel Elliott to go, as well as some good news for fans of the other three NFC East clubs.
Elliott, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and Ohio State alum, is in his mid-20s and exhibiting symptoms of aging. However, as NBC Sports’ Florio, Mike recently pointed out, the Cowboys’ star running back problem is unlikely to be addressed anytime soon.
Ezekiel Elliott has put the Dallas Cowboys in a tough position.
The Dallas Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott may have a difficult road ahead of them | Harry How/Getty Images
Depending on who you ask, the Cowboys may not have any issues with Elliott at all. He’s run for 1,083 yards and seven touchdowns on an even four yards per carry since the start of the 2020 regular season. Over a 17-game span, they aren’t terrible statistics for most running backs.
The problem is that Elliott isn’t like most running backs. He’s a 26-year-old perennial Pro Bowler who’s signed a six-year, $90 million deal with the team. If he manages to finish his contract, he’ll be eligible for free agency in 2027, just a few months before turning 32.
The Cowboys’ financial commitments to Elliott put them in a difficult position, particularly if his recent poor play — he’s only rushed for 100 yards in two games since the start of last season — is a harbinger of things to come. The Cowboys are “trapped” with their veteran running back, as Florio stated in a recent post on ProFootballTalk.
“They may sell him after 2021, but he’ll still be paid. They have the option to fire him after 2021, but he will be compensated for the difference between what someone else pays him (which is likely to be considerably less than $12.9 million) and the $12.9 million. If Elliott has become less successful, as it seems, and the Cowboys had the freedom to cut the cord or force him to accept less, they would.”
That’s what happens when a club contracts a running back with a lot of experience to a long contract deal.
The appearance of Tony Pollard has further exacerbated Elliott’s predicament.
Until the second-string player actually sees the field, fans always favor the backup. Just ask New York Jets fans whether they believe the same thing about quarterbacks.
Many Cowboys fans, whether they work for the organization or just wear the club’s shirts to the bar, would argue that Elliott offers the team the greatest opportunity to win a Super Bowl. Backup Tony Pollard, on the other hand, is rapidly reaching the stage where the home fans may want him to be the starting running back.
In the Cowboys’ Week 2 win against Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers, the third-year Memphis product rushed for 109 yards and a score. In 33 career games, he has run for 1,013 yards and seven touchdowns on an even five yards per carry.
On the other hand, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. Pollard is a competent change-of-pace running back who can pick up a touchdown or two while Elliott is on the bench. He’s also a capable receiver, with seven receptions for 60 yards in the first two games of the season.
Given Elliott’s early difficulties, social media users and fantasy football managers naturally want to see Pollard get more chances. If he gets 25 touches a game, though, there’s no guarantee he’ll perform at a Pro Bowl level.
Elliott and the Cowboys must keep their emphasis on the now rather than on what may happen in 2023.
In the NFL, nothing lasts forever. Elliott, the fourth overall selection in 2016, may end up as a backup quarterback for the Raiders in his early 30s. Before his current deal expires, he may potentially turn things around and remain a solid starting running back.
The Cowboys must make sure that everyone is focused on the current moment. Elliott’s long-term status in Dallas will be addressed by all parties when the time comes, whether it means moving him after this season, cutting him in 2023, or any other alternative.
The Cowboys should always be in postseason contention with Dak Prescott at quarterback. Off the bench and on special teams, Pollard offers America’s Team with playmaking skills.
The Cowboys will need Elliott to be at his best at this stage if they want to compete for a Super Bowl championship later this year. Bringing a sixth Lombardi Trophy to Dallas would certainly aid both teams in overcoming the reality that they are, for the time being, trapped with each other.
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