After exceeding expectations and a 12-5 record last season, the Dallas Cowboys have had arguably the worst offseason in the entire NFL. The Cowboys have lost many key starters from last year's roster, including Amari Cooper, Randy Gregory, Keanu Neal and Connor Williams.
John Middkelauff blamed Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott for the team's poor offseason Tuesday in an episode of the 3 and Out with John Middlekauff podcast. He cited high-paid players Elliot, Prescott, Tyron Smith, and DeMarcus Lawrence for taking up a large chunk of the salary cap. Middlekauff had this to say:
"Yeah, I think it's more you know, you're paying a lot of money to Dak Prescott and Zeke and even Tyronn Smith makes a lot of money. But Dak Prescott makes a s***load of cash. So Zeke makes a ton for running back. So I think it's part of it is just you have some DeMarcus Lawrence makes a lot of cash. You have some high-paid players. You know, I mean, and then just if you just have random starters, making five $8 million, it like, it adds up."
Middlekauff's point is fair, but paying good players a lot of money is a major part of life in the NFL. In Dallas' case, prioritizing a running back whose numbers have declined on an annual basis was a questionable decision that has received criticism.
How much do Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot make for the Cowboys?
Elliot and Prescott are the two highest-paid players on the Cowboys roster for 2022. Prescott is the top earner, with a $19.7 million cap hit. Cutting him would result in a staggering $108 million dead cap hit.
Elliot's cap hit stands at $18.2 million, but cutting him would result in a $30 million dead cap hit. It ranks as the ninth-highest cap hit in the NFL, excluding quarterbacks.
Middlekauff has been critical of the franchise all offseason and has accused them of failing Prescott by moving on from his most trusted player in Cooper.
He also took issue with Elliot being retained this long into his career. In Elliot's rookie season, he rushed for 108.7 rushing yards per game. That number has declined every season, dipping to 58.9 yards per game in 2021.
Prescott and Elliot's contracts and seniority on the roster will bring lofty expectations. For them to be as successful in 2022 as they were in 2021, Prescott and Elliot will have to be the all-stars they're paid to be.
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