What now for Ezekiel Elliott? He’s due a base salary of $10.9 million next season, and he won’t be back at that price tag. But could the Cowboys bring him back at a reduced rate?
Elliott indicates he wants to stay in Dallas and is open to a pay cut. “I don't have a crystal ball; I can't tell you the future. But I definitely want to be here,” he says.
But will the Cowboys even want him back? His play has really dipped, and they’ve got other pressing needs. Tony Pollard is heading for free agency; he would come in ahead of Elliott in the list of priorities. And they potentially could pick up a cost-controlled running back in the draft. (That’s the route I’d be looking to take.)
Elliott is only 27, but he’s looking like another Todd Gurley nowadays – a once-great back who’s been run into the ground. He’s lost a lot of speed, power and athleticism. He’s just a guy.
Elliott in the just-completed season ran for 876 yards and 12 TDs, but he averaged only 3.8 yards per attempt. Running behind the same line, Pollard averaged 5.2 yards per carry.
Below see a list of 22 running backs who show up as comps for Elliott. All ran for over 500 yards on teams with another running back who ran for more yards and averaged at least a yard more per carry. And all were at least 27 years old. The chart below shows how these Zeke-type comp performed the next season.
In the last 40 years, only one of these running backs finished the next year with top-20 numbers (using PPR scoring). That would be Christian Okoye in 1991 (the No. 17 back that year).
Elliott oddly lined up at center on the ill-fated gadget play that ended Dallas’ season, getting run over by Azeez Al-Shaair. I’m thinking that’s probably going to be his last play as a Cowboy.
|LATER CAREER BACKS LOOKING TO BOUNCE BACK|
|1972||Tom Matte, Balt.||33||33||137||4.2||0||65|
|1972||Donny Anderson, St.L.||29||153||536||3.5||4||28|
|1972||• Emerson Boozer, NYJ||29||120||549||4.6||11||20|
|1974||MacArthur Lane, G.B.||32||137||362||2.6||3||23|
|1975||Jess Phillips, Oak.||28||63||298||4.7||1||88|
|1976||Altie Taylor, Hou.||29||5||11||2.2||0||144|
|1976||• Rocky Bleier, Pitt.||30||220||1,036||4.7||5||15|
|1980||• Cullen Bryant, LAR||29||183||807||4.4||3||12|
|1981||• Joe Washington, Was.||28||210||916||4.4||4||13|
|1987||Larry Kinnebrew, Cin.||28||145||570||3.9||8||29|
|1991||Marcus Allen, Oak.||31||63||287||4.6||2||55|
|1991||• Christian Okoye, K.C.||30||225||1,031||4.6||9||17|
|2005||Antowain Smith, N.O.||33||166||659||4.0||3||45|
|2006||Stephen Davis, St.L.||32||40||177||4.4||0||71|
|2007||Dominic Rhodes, Oak.||28||75||302||4.0||1||74|
|2008||Jesse Chatman, NYJ||29||5||8||1.6||0||153|
|2011||Thomas Jones, K.C.||33||153||478||3.1||0||70|
|2012||Pierre Thomas, N.O.||28||105||473||4.5||1||32|
|2019||Dion Lewis, Ten.||29||54||209||3.9||0||63|
|2020||Frank Gore, NYJ||37||187||653||3.5||2||46|