Would Ezekiel Elliott be a progress stopper for the 2023 Cowboys?
Ezekiel Elliott’s finest days look like behind him. Since signing that mammoth six-year, $90 million extension in 2019, Elliott has struggled to stay as much as expectations. His yards per carry plummeted from 4.7 in 2019 to a profession worst 3.8 in 2022, bringing his quantity and effectivity stats alongside for the journey.
Recognizing he’s not the focus of the offense he as soon as was, it’s been reported Elliott is open to idea of playing at a reduced salary. On the books for $16,720,000 in opposition to the wage cap, it’s in all probability going to take extra than simply “much less.”
Skip Peete, Elliott’s long-time working again coach, won’t be introduced again by the staff and that might point out one thing about how the group will method the place within the offseason.
Whereas an outright launch would price the Cowboys $11,860,000 in useless cash, a reduce designated as post-June-1 would result in $5,820,000 in dead money. That opens up the likelihood for compromise as an answer.
How replaceable is Elliott’s manufacturing
It’s necessary to know precisely how Elliott stacks up in opposition to the sphere.
Yards per try is a quantity many take a look at to grade effectivity. The issue right here is as a rule, they’re reliant on the offensive line and = the forms of alternatives moderately than act as a barometer of success.
Pollard ran behind the identical line as Elliott and put up significantly higher yards-per-carry numbers (5.2 in comparison with 3.8). It’s additionally necessary to level out; the common variety of defenders in field in opposition to every was the identical (6.9 per participant profiler); Elliott wasn’t dealing with poorer circumstances as a runner, although the Cowboys clearly used Elliott in short-yardage conditions extra usually than they did Pollard.
An awesome gauge for working backs is rushing yards over expected. An expectation for every run relies on defenders positioning and offensive line blocking. Pollard’s RYOE of 0.47 locations him seventh general within the NFL, whereas Elliott’s -0.47 RYOE ranks him 27 general).
Elliott ranked No. 54 in yards created per contact, No. 41 in breakaway run charge and No. 48 in juke charge (player profiler). He typically rated between 27 and 54 in most main effectivity classes final season, indicating he’s a participant at alternative stage.
Wanting previous the financials, what’s the impression of retaining a declining participant like Elliott? When does his existence develop into a detriment to the staff and a progress stopper on the place?
Such evaluation is tough to make given the unknown scenario with Tony Pollard. Pollard, a free agent this low season, is not any assure to return. Nobody needs Elliott to steal carries from Pollard however what a couple of anonymous, faceless possibility within the backfield?
By the numbers detailed above, he’s replaceable and Dallas might not even want a draft choose to do it.
Even when the Cowboys get to carry Elliott again for pennies, he runs the chance of being a progress-stopper on an extremely young team.
There are a finite quantity of snaps in a recreation and for a season. Each carry Elliott will get, is a carry a unique participant doesn’t.
In 2019, Jason Witten got here again to Dallas after a short stint in broadcasting. He provided to play at a lowered function and at a lowered value. But Witten’s big persona and aggressive nature ensured his function was nonetheless appreciable. He nonetheless logged the majority of the snaps at tight finish and pulled in simply as many receptions as he did the season earlier than his hiatus.
Witten took snaps from Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz that season, two gamers who had been youthful, cheaper and provided increased upside. Would the identical factor occur if the Cowboys stored on Elliott?
It’s not nearly cash, or persona, and even an agreed upon function. It’s about alternatives as nicely, and whether or not a possibility given to Elliott will come at the price of a possibility for a greater participant.