It looks like Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has come to a final decision on a pay cut.
As reported by Michael Gehlken of Dallas Morning News on Monday, January 23, Elliott is “willing” to accept a pay cut to remain with the Cowboys, according to a source familiar with his thinking.
“The running back is willing to accept a pay cut this offseason, recognizing that a reduced salary can better fit him into the franchise’s plans, a person familiar with Elliott’s thinking told The Dallas Morning News on Monday afternoon,” said Gehlken. “He is currently scheduled to earn a $10.9 million salary in 2023.”
Why Cowboys Need to Restructure Ezekiel Elliott’s Contract
The 27-year-old running back is due to have the second-highest cap hit of any player at his position in the league for the 2023 season at $16.7 million.
It’s clear that while Elliott is certainly valued by the franchise, there are two major reasons for why a contract restructure is needed — his production is diminishing and the Cowboys hope to re-sign free agent Tony Pollard.
While Elliott remains the workhorse of the backfield, he is also the less dynamic between him and Pollard. The 25-year-old Pollard was just named to his first Pro Bowl after leading the Cowboys in rushing with 1,007 yards in addition to catching 39 passes for 371 yards and three touchdowns.
However, Pollard did suffer a serious broken fibula injury during the Cowboys’ 19-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round of the playoffs. The injury means a lengthy recovery for Pollard, who could take three months to fully recover from the injury.
That makes bringing back Elliott even more pivotal considering Pollard is coming off of a serious injury and has never proven to be a full-time back.
Elliott States Desire to Return to Cowboys After Playoff Loss
Elliott stated his desire to return to Dallas while speaking to reporters following the playoff loss.
“I’ve definitely thought about it,” said Elliott. “I want to be here. I don’t have a crystal ball; I can’t tell you the future. But I definitely want to be here.”
The seven-year veteran is in the midst of a six-year, $90 million contract extension he signed in 2019. He still technically has four years and $50 million left on his deal, which runs through the 2026 season. However, Dallas can move on from Elliott this offseason by absorbing just an $11.9 million dead cap hit by releasing him.
With all that in mind, it’s hard to envision the Cowboys moving on from Elliott if they can restructure his deal — which is something he’s fully willing to do in order to continue his career in Dallas.
As mentioned by Gehlken, Elliott’s desire to “come to the table” regarding a return and a restructuring of his contract is key towards a return with the Cowboys.
“While negotiating financial terms can prove a process, Elliott’s desire to come to the table is a significant step toward an eighth NFL season in Dallas,” said Gehklen. “The Cowboys are believed to have interest in keeping Elliott, too, because of what he brings, on and off the field.”
Barring an unexpected development, both sides should be able to work towards an agreement that will see the veteran running back make a return to Dallas for another season.