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.

1972Tom Matte, Balt.33331374.2065
1972Donny Anderson, St.L.291535363.5428
1972• Emerson Boozer, NYJ291205494.61120
1974MacArthur Lane, G.B.321373622.6323
1975Jess Phillips, Oak.28632984.7188
1976Altie Taylor, Hou.295112.20144
1976• Rocky Bleier, Pitt.302201,0364.7515
1980• Cullen Bryant, LAR291838074.4312
1981• Joe Washington, Was.282109164.4413
1987Larry Kinnebrew, Cin.281455703.9829
1991Marcus Allen, Oak.31632874.6255
1991• Christian Okoye, K.C.302251,0314.6917
2005Antowain Smith, N.O.331666594.0345
2006Stephen Davis, St.L.32401774.4071
2007Dominic Rhodes, Oak.28753024.0174
2008Travis Henry30----------
2008Jesse Chatman, NYJ29581.60153
2011Thomas Jones, K.C.331534783.1070
2012Pierre Thomas, N.O.281054734.5132
2017Tim Hightower31----------
2019Dion Lewis, Ten.29542093.9063
2020Frank Gore, NYJ371876533.5246
2023Ezkiel Elliott28?????

—Ian Allan