According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, former Cowboys three-time Pro Bowler Ezekiel Elliott has narrowed down his list of potential teams to three, with the Eagles emerging as one of them. As Schefter notes, the 27-year-old running back would like to make a decision by the end of the week.
“Cowboys’ RB Ezekiel Elliott has narrowed down his options about where to play to the Eagles, Jets and Bengals, and he would like to make his decision about where to sign by the end of next week, per sources,” reports Schefter on Thursday, March 23.
Why the Cowboys Released Ezekiel Elliott
The veteran running back was recently released by the Cowboys in a salary cap, cost-cutting move. The seven-year veteran was due to earn $10.9 million in base salary and count $16.7 million towards the 2023 salary cap as the second-highest paid running back in the league. Despite a report that indicated Elliott was willing to take a paycut, both sides were unable to come to an agreement on a restructure, leading to Elliott’s release.
Despite being leaned on as Dallas’ starting running back during the 2022 season, Elliott saw his production decline to a career-low. Not only did Elliott run for just 876 yards, he did so on just 3.8 yards per carry.
As Bob Sturm of The Athletic reported back in February — prior to Elliott’s release — scouts believe he has “very little left in his legs.” In fact, Sturm went so far as to say that Elliott could only sign for the league minimum — the minimum is $1.165 million for a player with seven years of experience — if he played for a team outside of the Cowboys in 2023.
“I think the answer is that given the number of analysts and scouts I have talked to about Elliott this year and the consensus opinion is in stone,” said Sturm. “He has very little left in his legs and the word is out. I believe he has one option for employment above the league minimum and it is right here in Dallas. I could be wrong, but if I am, it is a very low number. Maybe one year for $2 million or $2.5 million which is a far cry from what he is used to.”
Sturm went so far as to say that the Cowboys should “move on” from Elliott, which they ended up doing during the early days of free agency.
“It is a fast decline for players who run the ball and lose their legs and as good a guy as he has been for this room, I think Dallas should move on quickly.” said Sturm.
Why the Eagles Could Sign Ezekiel Elliott
Despite his lack of explosiveness at this stage of his career, Elliott remains a workhorse and a red zone threat. Elliott ran for 12 touchdowns last season, ranking fifth in the league in touchdowns. Furthermore, he carried the ball 231 times, ranking 10th in the league in attempts. The number of rushing attempts also isn’t too far off from his average of 275 carries during the first six seasons of his career.
Despite losing Miles Sanders to the Carolina Panthers in free agency, the Eagles appear to be moving forward with Rashaad Penny as it’s starting running back. Philadelphia signed the former Seattle Seahawks back to a one-year, $1.23 million deal. While Penny is certainly productive while healthy — 5.7 yards per carry average — he’s rarely healthy. Penny is coming off a broken fibula injury after appearing in just five games last season. He has missed 37 of a possible 66 games over the past four seasons.
With Penny often injured, the Eagles could look to sign Elliott as insurance.