It was not long ago that the Dallas Cowboys looked like they would have one of the best offenses in the NFL for years to come. They had gotten a steal in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft in quarterback Dak Prescott. They also had Ezekiel Elliott, who for awhile was considered the best running back in football.
The team quickly built up the weapons around him. In the first round that season, the Cowboys selected Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall. Eventually, they brought in Amari Cooper to be his go-to No. 1 receiver. In the 2020 NFL Draft, the team landed star wide receiver CeeDee Lamb.
Unlike some quarterbacks who have weapons around them but cannot get the ball into their hands because of lackluster offensive line play, Prescott plays behind a great offensive line. Zack Martin is one of the best guards in the NFL and when healthy, Tyron Smith is still an excellent left tackle.
Dallas committed big money to the trio of Prescott, Elliott and Cooper and are likely already regretting it. While there are some people losing confidence in Prescott, such as Hall of Famer Drew Pearson, Prescott’s situation isn’t nearly as dire as Elliott’s.
Elliott signed a massive six-year, $90 million extension right before the 2019 season. He was excellent that year, rushing for 1,357 yards and 12 touchdowns. But, in the two seasons following, he has not looked the same.
Elliott has battled some nagging injuries that have visibly sapped some of his athleticism and explosiveness. According to a veteran sports orthopedic, that could be how things are for Elliott for the foreseeable future with the Cowboys.
That is certainly a concerning diagnosis. While every situation is different and this isn’t a doctor that has personally seen or worked with Elliott, it is still not encouraging to hear what the doctor said about Elliott’s situation.
The first potential out the Cowboys have from this deal is in 2023. If Elliott puts together another underwhelming season in 2022, as his yards per game average have dropped every season of his career, Dallas could look to exercise that.
The Cowboys have a more explosive option at running back in Tony Pollard, who has been excellent whenever called upon. He could continue cutting in Elliott’s role next season as he has looked like the better option for most of the previous two seasons.