The Cowboys have informed the veteran running back that he will be designated as a post-June 1 release in order to create cap space, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported on Wednesday, per sources.
“Zeke’s impact and influence is seared into the Cowboys franchise in a very special and indelible way,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. “He has been a consummate professional and leader that set a tone in our locker room, on the practice field and in the huddle. Zeke defined what a great teammate should be, and anyone that has ever played a team sport would be lucky to have a teammate like Zeke and be much better for it. His commitment and passion for winning is selfless, and the accountability he brings everyday earned the respect of our coaches, his teammates and our entire organization. He wore the Cowboys Star with pride and purpose every single time he put it on, and we’re a better franchise because of the example he set for veterans and rookies alike. That carried over into our community as well, with Zeke’s generosity and spirit about giving and caring for others.
“We have mutually agreed with Zeke that the best decision for everyone is that he will be able to experience free agency, and we can increase our flexibility and options as well. This is one of the toughest parts of operating a team. Moments like this come, and extremely difficult decisions and choices are made. For the franchise. For me personally. For players too. We will always have a special place and love for Zeke and what he means to our Cowboys family, both as a person and a player. That will never change.”
It is a move long anticipated, as Elliott’s place with the team had come into doubt over the past year, even with the Cowboys saying publicly that they wanted to find a way to bring him back in 2023.
Elliott, 27, is coming off career lows in rush attempts (231), rush yards (876) and rushing average (3.8), although he did total 12 touchdowns and score in nine straight games last season. By midseason, it was clear Tony Pollard had surpassed Elliott as the lead RB option.
Ever since Elliott signed a six-year, $90 million extension in 2019, he has been in a steady decline. He played through a knee injury, missing two games last season, and wore a brace thereafter.
Releasing Elliott as a post-June 1 cut will save the Cowboys more than $10 million, per Over the Cap. The Cowboys placed the franchise tag on Pollard, guaranteeing him a one-year tender at $10.1 million, even though he’s coming off a season-ending leg injury.
The NFL’s second-leading active rusher — 73 yards behind Derrick Henry — now will hit the market for the first time in his career. Elliott’s final play as a Cowboy was a bizarre one: snapping to the ball to Dak Prescott (and getting trucked) on a last-snap trick play that flopped badly in the Divisional Round playoff loss to the 49ers.
Elliott will finish his Cowboys career as Dallas’ third-leading rusher all time, behind Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett.