The Cowboys never offered Ezekiel Elliott a new deal before the franchise released him on March 15, citing that it did not want to offend the three-time Pro Bowl running back.
Elliott was set to carry a $16.7 million charge against the Cowboys salary cap prior to his release. Instead, Dallas freed up $10.9 million with his departure. The franchise explored multiple options to retain him that included a pay cut according to The Dallas Morning News, but now the son of owner Jerry Jones has shared why an offer was not made.
Cowboys executive vice president and CEO Stephen Jones said putting a limited deal in front of “one of the best players to ever put on a Cowboys uniform” risked insulting him.
“The last thing we want to do is do anything that would be insulting to a player, to a great player, like Zeke [Elliott],” Jones told Jori Epstein of Yahoo Sports. “There are sensitivities when you get into making offers.”
Elliott’s efficiency in yards per carry has declined and fluctuated over his seven-year career. In 2016, he averaged an eye-popping 5.1 yards per carry, which dipped down to 4.1 in ’17, up to 4.7 in ’18 and down to 4.5 in ’19 with a steady decline beyond that season. In the ’22 season, Elliott rushed for 876 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging just 3.8 yard per carry.
While injuries have played a part in Elliott’s production, Jones said the organization wanted the 27-year-old to have the flexibility to see his worth in the free agency market.
“Sometimes the best thing is to let them get a feel for what the market is,” Jones said. “When you’re talking about great players … they think a lot, not in a selfish way, but they perceive themselves as a great player and they are. It just becomes how do you make the business work. It always boils down to that unfortunately.”