The Ezekiel Elliott era in Dallas came to a close this offseason when the Dallas Cowboys released the veteran, who had four years remaining on a massive six-year, $90 million extension he signed in 2019.
Elliott was arguably the worst starting running back in the league last season, finishing last in the NFL in yards per carry (3.8), tackles avoided (32), and percentage of runs that went for 10-plus yards (7.4%). The move was processed as a post-June 1 cut, and the Cowboys saw $10.9 million in cap relief as a result and will be left with $5.82 million in dead money on this year's cap. He was owed $64.76 million for the remainder of his contract, but there was no guaranteed salary remaining on his deal.
While the end for Elliott in Dallas wasn't great, he was one of the best running backs in Cowboys history. Third on the all-time list in rushing yards for the Cowboys (8,262), Elliott rushed for 1,000 yards four times in seven seasons, while also reaching double digits in rushing touchdowns four times and earning three Pro Bowl appearances.
Elliott led the NFL in rushing yards per game in three consecutive seasons (2016-2018) and the league in rushing yards twice (2016, 2018). His rushing yards per game numbers have declined each season as a result of the number of touches accumulated over the course of his career, averaging a career-low 58.4 rushing yards per game and 3.8 yards per carry in 2022.
Elliott's release cleared the path to make Tony Pollard the featured back in Dallas. Pollard ranked first in the NFL in yards per touch (5.9) last season, as he rushed for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns. This offseason, the Cowboys added Ronald Jones via free agency and Deuce Vaughn via the draft, and also have 2022 undrafted free agent Malik Davis still on the roster.