Cowboys say they haven't closed the door on an Ezekiel Elliott return


Ezekiel Elliott might just boomerang his way back to the Cowboys.

Elliott's market hasn't materialized ever since the Cowboys designated him as a post-June 1 cut on March 15, despite ESPN's Adam Schefter reporting last week that he was deciding between the Eagles, Jets and Bengals to be his next destination.

However, none of those three teams appear to be interested in Elliott at the moment.

Jets coach Robert Salah said Monday at the NFL owners meetings that the team is "happy with our running back room," and Bengals coach Zac Taylor recently said "we like our team" when he was asked about the report that his team was interested in Elliott. And John Clark of NBC Philadelphia reported on Thursday that the “Eagles have not engaged in conversations” with the former Cowboys running back, and they “are happy with the running backs they have now.”

Which brings us back to the Cowboys, who are suddenly not shutting the door on a possible return for the seven-year pro.

"You know, no one felt good about that," Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said Monday about Elliott's release. "I mean, Zeke has such a bright light to him too. He's a great teammate. There's so much love for him in the building, but you get to these spots, you know, the longer you're in this league, these are tough decisions. Very difficult decisions. Very difficult for Dak (Prescott). You know, I've had a number of conversations with Dak, but it's not easy."

"Yeah, definitely," Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said Monday when asked by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero if the door was still open for Elliott to return. "I think you always keep the door open. Absolutely."

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones echoed those same sentiments when he spoke about Elliott's release for the first time publicly Monday.

"I don't want to leave him hanging or fans hanging or anybody, but I wouldn't take any possibility off the table," Jones said via Mike Fisher of “Zeke gave us everything he had and more. And we gave him everything we had and more. So that’s the way you’d like to end it.”

By designating Elliott as a post-June 1 cut, Elliott will still count $16.72 million against the Cowboys' salary cap. But the number will drop to $5.82 million after June 1, providing Dallas with $10.9 million in savings.

Elliott spent the first seven years of his career with the Cowboys after being selected with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 draft. During his time with Dallas, Elliott was a two-time All-Pro (One first-team, One second-team), a three-time Pro Bowler, and led the NFL in rushing twice. He topped 1,000 yards four times and scored more than ten rushing touchdowns four times.

Elliott's stellar production in his first three seasons led the Cowboys to sign him to a six-year, $90 million contract extension in 2019. That decision has hampered the organization ever since and likely resulted in the Cowboys' decision to move on from No. 1 wide receiver Amari Cooper before last season.

Injuries caught up to Elliott over the past two seasons. He played through a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in 2021 but didn't miss a game. And a hyper extended knee forced him to miss two games in 2022.

Elliott had a career-low 876 yards rushing and a career-low 3.8 yards per carry last season and was surpassed by Tony Pollard on the depth chart.

Despite his low production, Elliott is still only 27 and believes he still has football left in him.

"Zeke believes he has some years left. (Ezekiel Elliott's reps) certainly think if he's healthy and didn't have the knee injury, he probably would have topped 1,000 yards last year. Obviously, they think their name, their history, and (with) their resume, that they will have a market," Clarence Hill of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram recently told 105.3 The Fan.

What that market will be is anyone's guess.

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