Report: ‘Expectation’ that Ezekiel Elliott will return to the Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys could draft their future running back today in the second or third round of the draft. It looks like it might not be the only back they add to the 2024 roster. Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News says that while the team could take a back in the draft, that won’t eliminate the “expectation” that the Cowboys will reunite with free agent Ezekiel Elliott.

It was reported on Wednesday that the Cowboys met with Elliott’s representation ahead of the draft, which indicated that a return for Elliott could likely occur. Dallas released their former franchise running back last offseason to free up some cap space. Elliott is still accounting for around $6 million against the cap in 2024, but a potential deal won’t negate that hit.

If Elliott rejoins the Cowboys, Gehlken notes that he would help “complement and help mentor” whichever rookie the team takes. However, his storied legacy with the franchise might not be enough to guarantee him a roster spot.

It won’t be because of a lack of talent but rather a tough competition at the position heading into training camp. In an article from David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, owner Jerry Jones says he could see Zeke playing next year but notes the competition that lies ahead for the position.

Jerry Jones was reluctant to declare that Elliott would return because he said the club is in a competitive situation, indicating that Elliott has at least one other suitor. But he said the interest is real.

“Is it real that Zeke is going to play next year in my mind?’’ Jerry Jones asked rhetorically. “I think it’s very real that he’s going to play in my view. But I don’t want to go too far here because it’s competition.’’

Dallas currently has Rico Dowdle, Royce Freeman, Hunter Leupke, Deuce Vaughn, Malik Davis, and Snoop Connor as their running backs. Adding Elliott and a potential draft pick would increase the competition.

There are only so many reps in camp and the preseason, but Mike McCarthy has talked about adding competition to that room, considering their production last season was not up to their standards.

The only roster spot that would carry a guarantee at running back in Dallas would be whoever they potentially draft on day two. Outside of that, it looks like the Cowboys are going to have a healthy debate on who will be the second, third, and maybe even fourth options—including their franchise’s third all-time leading rusher.


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