Why did Dallas Cowboys release star RB Ezekiel Elliott? Exploring factors that led to Cowboys parting ways with RB
Following a steep drop in his performance, Ezekiel Elliott saw his seven-year association with the Dallas Cowboys end on Wednesday (Mar. 15) with his release from the team.
The Cowboys had chosen Elliott as the fourth overall choice in the 2016 NFL draft, and between 2016 and 2018, he dominated the league in rushing yards per game. However, in 2022, the running back had a poor campaign, losing ground to Tony Pollard in the Cowboys' rushing offense.
The development of Tony Pollard into a starting running back has also exposed Ezekiel Elliott's deterioration as a rusher. During his first four years, Pollard averaged a staggering 5.1 yards per rush for Dallas and was an explosive player. He had fewer touches than Elliott, but in 2022, he was far more effective.
The figures confirm that Ezekiel Elliott, who finished bottom in the NFL in yards per carry with 3.8 last season, is one of the worst starting running backs in the league. He avoided just 32 tackles, and 7.4% of his rushes gained ten or more yards.
As a byproduct, while managing 12 TDs, Elliott is still at the back of career lows in rushing yards, attempts, rushing and average. The three-time Pro Bowler's salary and fitness also played a role in the Cowboys' decision to release him, despite their prior indications that they were interested in keeping him.
Elliott's release may have been inevitable, but it still represents the end of an era for the Cowboys and their fans. Many reckon Elliott has much more significance in Dallas with a less expensive contract and a smaller cap hit.
Although his skills and abilities on the pitch cannot be contested, Dallas was reluctant to sign him due to the size of his contract, which made it challenging to assemble a well-rounded roster. Elliott's time in Dallas has ended, but it's unclear what the future holds for him.
Ezekiel Elliott’s potential landing spots
Several teams could be willing to acquire Ezekiel Elliott as a rotational goal-line runner, even if he might no longer be the player he once was.
Who might want to sign Elliott? Several pundits have listed the following teams as Elliott's best fit as he looks to join a contender:
Los Angeles Chargers
New Orleans Saints