Ezekiel Elliott was released by the Dallas Cowboys during the 2023 NFL offseason after spending his entire career so far with the franchise.
He was reportedly a salary cap casualty as the Cowboys looked to free up additional cap space. Elliott was scheduled to make $16.72 million in guaranteed money for the upcoming 2023 season, making him the second-highest paid running back in the entire NFL.
While Ezekiel Elliott may be a bit past his prime at this point, he's proven in recent years that he's still fully capable of carrying a large workload and helping a team succeed. He figures to have a relatively large market of interested teams due to his legitimate experience and dynamic skillset.
One team that has been rumored to be interested in Elliott is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after they released their starting running back Leonard Fournette. Apparently, there's a caveat if the Buccaneers were to pursue the former Cowboys running back.
According to Bucs reporter Rick Stroud:
"Bucs RB coach Skip Peete says he believes former Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott has to accept that his role on a new team would take him from a $12 million running back to a $4 million running back. 'So who's gonna be the one to tell him?'"
Peete is implying that if the Buccaneers were to sign Elliott, he would need to be willing to adjust his role within their offense as well as his salary requirements. They would likely use him as part of a running backs committee approach, and his salary would reflect that.
What role could Ezekiel Elliott play for the Buccaneers?
The Dallas Cowboys were at their best last year when Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard were used in tandem. "Zeke" took care of most of the dirty work, including short yardage situations and pounding the ball between the tackles, freeing up Pollard for more of the explosive plays.
Elliott can potentially serve a similar role for the Buccaneers if they do in fact sign him ahead of the 2023 NFL season.
This would allow Rachaad White to be the featured offensive player, while taking less of a beating on the grinding plays. The Bucs also signed Chase Edmonds, who profiles as more of a receiving specialist and potential third-down back.