3 reasons why bringing Ezekiel Elliott back can benefit the Cowboys in 2024

Yes, the Dallas Cowboys should have drafted a running back. it was shocking that it didn’t take place. However, there’s no need to cry over spilled milk because the NFL draft is long gone now, and the Cowboys decided to address their running back room with a familiar face.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he has returned. Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys former first-round pick in 2016, who spent last season with the New England Patriots, is back in Dallas on a one-year deal.

Elliott’s departure was understandable from a financial standpoint on the Cowboys’ behalf, although both sides did try to work something out before the 2023 campaign. Now that he’s making his return, here are three reasons how Elliott being back on the roster helps the 2024 version of the Cowboys.

Locker room morale

This might be the most underrated aspect of playing in the NFL. Every team has talent, even the ones that don’t win a lot. However, it’s the camaraderie and brotherhood that takes things to the next level. Despite how his skills may have dwindled in some respects, Elliott was always a leader in the locker room.

Don’t believe me that Elliott galvanized the locker room? This is what nine-time All-Pro right guard Zack Martin had to say about him in 2022.

It’s important to note that this was during a time when the team reduced Elliott’s role, rightfully so, in favor of Tony Pollard. He was still a leader and was even seen on the sidelines cheering for Pollard when he was battling injuries. That type of dedication to the team is infectious, to piggyback off Martin.

Guidance in the running back room

Elliott has seen the highest of highs in the NFL, and they started as soon as he stepped on the field. He led the league in rushing as a rookie, a very rare accomplishment. Over the next three seasons, Elliott would lead the league in rushing yards per game, win another rushing title, and finish fourth in rushing, and second in all-purpose yards (2019). Then, there’s having his reps reduced at the tail end of Pollard’s time in Dallas, which surely wasn’t easy despite his team-first mentality.

Having seen it all, Elliott can be a good mentor to a guy like Deuce Vaughn, who barely played as a rookie in 2023. Although Rico Dowdle and Royce Freeman are both veterans, they only have nine starts between them and just over 2,000 yards total in nine combined NFL seasons up until this point. Whether if it’s in Dallas or elsewhere in the future, Elliott can show them how to navigate as the lead dog while also guiding those behind you. After all, being RB1 comes with a ton of responsibility.

Pass blocking, short-yardage/goal line

It doesn’t make the highlight reel or show up in the stat sheet, but being able to block as a running back is an extremely valuable skill, and you have to want to get your hands dirty to do so. Elliott is a throwback at the running back position in that regard because if you try to hit his best friend, quarterback Dak Prescott, he’s been known to attack like lions on a buffalo in the Serengeti. It’s likely that rookies Tyler Guyton and Cooper Beebe will be starting in 2024, which means there will be some growing pains here and there. So, having another guy like Elliott to ensure Prescott’s protection is key.

Even with reduced carries two years ago, Elliott still led the Cowboys with 12 rushing touchdowns. It’s key to remember that 10 of them came inside the 10-yard line, meaning there was a trust in him to get those tough yards and cash them in for touchdowns. He was also used a ton on short down and distances to move the chains anywhere on the field, which is very valuable when it comes to winning the time of possession battle.

Elliott isn’t likely to run for big total yards anymore, and he doesn’t need to. If he can simply give the Cowboys these three things in 2024, it will be worth the investment.


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