The Dallas Cowboys parted ways with three-time Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott earlier this week, seven years after he was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith recently took to social media to criticize the move.
With his Dallas career now (likely) over, Zeke leaves as the franchise’s third-leading rusher with 8,262 yards. Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett is second on the Cowboys’ all-time rushing list with 12,036 yards, while Smith leads both Dallas (17,162) and the NFL’s all-time rushing list (18,355).
Elliott also trails only Smith and Dorsett with his 68 rushing scores with the organization.
With Zeke two years older than Tony Pollard and 2022 running back Malik Davis promising, Elliott’s release was not a surprising move. In 15 games last season, the 27-year-old Ohio St. product set career lows in rushing attempts (231), rushing yards (876), ducks per carry (3.8), targets (23), receptions (17) and receptions. yards (92) while failing to record a receiving touchdown for the first time in his seven NFL seasons.
Elliott’s official release would ultimately save the team $10.9 million in post-June 1 cuts.
In the Cowboys’ NFC Divisional Round loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Pollard suffered a high ankle sprain and fractured fibula and eventually underwent surgery. He’s clearly been on the back end with more burst all season and was given the franchise tag earlier this month.
The Cowboys could select Davis as Pollard’s backup (or starter if the latter’s recovery is delayed), but Dallas could also look to add running back depth through April’s NFL Draft.