Cowboys seem prepared to address running back by simply bringing back Ezekiel Elliott

There is a middle ground here, but the Dallas Cowboys seem hellbent on avoiding it.

Nine years ago we applauded the team for not paying big money to a running back in DeMarco Murray. Right on.

In the draft following we expected them to throw a late Day 2 or Day 3 pick at the position (remember our obsessions with Tevin Coleman and/or Duke Johnson Jr.?) to have an option to use for the next handful of years. They declined to go take any of them and instead rode with the duo of Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden (Christine Michael had a few moments too) in what became a rather complicated season for the position that all benefited from a great offensive line.

Just one year after that the Cowboys selected Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick in the draft, their most premium draft asset in a generation, and doubled down on him with a massive contract extension in 2019. They seemed to have learned that lesson a year ago when they released Zeke for financial reasons, and after a season with the New England Patriots the former rushing champion remains on the open market.

The Cowboys obviously cannot help themselves.

It appears that the plan at running back this season is to just bring back Ezekiel Elliott

After letting Tony Pollard walk in free agency (one year after they placed the franchise tag on him) the Cowboys chose to not sign anybody significant on the open market.

To be totally fair and clear here, the Cowboys did sign somebody and did so rather recently when they inked Royce Freeman. It stood to reason that Dallas would draft a runner to go with Freeman, Rico Dowdle and Deuce Vaughn, but that the drafted player would absorb the lion’s share of touches/carries/attention.

The draft came and went and not a single running back was taken by the team. In fact, the most mentioned runner wasn’t even Jonathon Brooks (taken by the Carolina Panthers) who was talked about a ton. The name that came up the most throughout the draft process was the aforementioned Ezekiel Elliott.

Reports from all over the place are that Dallas bringing Elliott back is inevitable. Stephen Jones reiterated in one of the draft weekend’s press conferences that the team thinks very highly of him and is grateful for all that he has done for the franchise. That very well may be true, but acting as if this being the main plan for 2024 is not exactly living in reality.

Elliott played all 17 games for the Patriots last season (the New England team was so bad that they picked third overall) and carried the ball 184 times for 642 total yards. That comes out to 3.5 yards per carry if you are curious. Also if you are feeling inquisitive, his longest run was well shy of 20 yards.

The Cowboys can say that Zeke will play a role along the likes of Dowdle, Vaughn and Freeman (assuming they all make the team) but does anybody really buy that? Is there anyone here that legitimately believes that in moments of seriousness that they won’t go back to the well that they are lining up to re-visit?

It is unfortunate that Dallas did not have a fourth-round selection when a lot of the top running backs went. The Dallas Morning News’ David Moore noted that if the Cowboys still had the pick that they dealt to the San Francisco 49ers for Trey Lance that they may have been able to get one that they liked.

Interestingly enough, the Cowboys trading for number 15 may have been the first domino that fell towards them landing another in Zeke.

The Cowboys would have been wrong to have reached on a runner in the rounds following number four, but this draft was always regarded as one shy on running back depth which is why we urged them to sign someone in free agency or to bring Pollard back.

We are on the verge of Elliott being back which will be quite the scene for the team.


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