A former Dallas Cowboys star could soon join a Super Bowl contender.
As reported by Heavy NFL reporter Matt Lombardo, the Buffalo Bills are a team to watch for former Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.
“Team, agent sources almost unanimously: Watch for Bills,” Lombardo tweeted on Friday, March 16. “Reasoning on the Bills, from league source ‘Buffalo is looking for a big back, and Zeke checks that box,’” Lombardo continued.
As Lombardo also notes in his tweet, one NFL general manager stresses that while Elliott is not a featured back, he can still contribute in pass protection.
“Asked around on Ezekiel Elliott today,” said Lombardo. “According to a current NFL GM: ‘He’s Lost his burst. Still tough, great in pass pro. Instinctive runner but doesn’t have same juice or legs he had in past. Not a featured back.’”
Why the Cowboys Released Ezekiel Elliott
The 27-year-old running back played seven seasons for the Cowboys, emerging as one of the best backs during his tenure in Dallas. Not only did Elliott clinch three Pro Bowl appearances, he led the NFL in rushing yards on two occasions (2016 and 2018). That early career success led to Elliott signing a $90 million contract just prior to the start of the 2019 season.
However, Elliott’s production clearly dipped in recent seasons, especially the most recent one. During the 2022 season, Tony Pollard clearly emerged as the more dynamic runner of the two, leading the Cowboys in rushing yards (1,007 yards on 5.2 yards per carry), while clinching his first Pro Bowl berth. Meanwhile, Elliott rushed for a career-low 876 rushing yards on just 3.8 yards per carry.
With Elliott due to be the second-highest paid running back in the league during the 2023 season — $10.9 million base salary and $16.7 million cap hit — the Cowboys attempted to restructure the veteran’s contract. However, the two sides were not able to come to an agreement and Dallas ended up releasing Elliott.
Team owner Jerry Jones released a statement thanking Elliott following his release.
“Zeke’s impact and influence is seared into the Cowboys franchise in a very special and indelible way,” Jones said. “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.”
Why the Bills Could Sign Ezekiel Elliott
Although Elliott no longer projects as a “featured” back, he could play a big role as a complementary power back to James Cook. The second-year Cook had a solid rookie season, posting 89 carries for 507 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. However, he didn’t start a single game during his rookie season as he played a complementary role to veteran Devin Singletary — who is currently a free agent.
Furthermore, he’s still a legit short-yardage back, rushing for 12 touchdowns last season. However, it’s clear the burst that Elliott possessed earlier in his career is no longer there. The veteran back ran for just 2.7 yards per carry and had just 17 runs of 10 yards or more during the 2022 season, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer.
Regardless, he could still play a major role for the Bills if Buffalo decides to take a chance on the former rushing champion.