April 15, 2024

Cowboys have ‘mutual interest’ with familiar running back

Earlier this week, a report named both Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook as running backs interested in a deal with the Cowboys. In the case of the former, that feeling appears to be mutual.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports Elliott and the Cowboys “have mutual interest in a reunion.” The former No. 4 pick began his career in Dallas, spending seven years with the team. Over the early portion of that span, he was one of the league’s dominant running backs; Elliott led the NFL in rushing in 2016 and 2019, and he earned three Pro Bowl invites in the first four years of his career.

Over time, though, the Ohio State product saw his efficiency begin to wane. The emergence of Tony Pollard led to a backfield committee, with Elliott serving as a short-yardage option toward the end of his Dallas tenure. Last offseason, he was released in a move which came as little surprise (although talk of a reduced deal was prevalent during the offseason, an agreement in that regard never came close to fruition).

Elliott ultimately joined the Patriots on an incentive-laden one-year deal. The 28-year-old posted a career-worst 3.5 yards per carry average in New England, a figure which resulted in a new personal low in rushing production (642 yards). He did post a team-leading 51 receptions, though, showcasing his continued ability as a pass-catching option out of the backfield.

Dallas kept Pollard on the franchise tag for 2023, and he was among the many running backs who found a new home very early in free agency this offseason. While the Cowboys have since re-signed Rico Dowdle, the team is in need of a backfield addition either in the secondary wave of free agency or next month’s draft. Elliott would fit the bill as a familiar and experienced back alongside Dowdle and 2023 sixth-rounder Deuce Vaughn, though other options will be available (particularly with respect to rookies next month).

No other teams have been connected to Elliott so far, a sign of his market value coming off a down season in New England. His age and declining production will certainly hurt the value of his next contract, but it would certainly be noteworthy if it came from the Cowboys.