Cowboys Rumors: Ezekiel Elliott Wants to Stay with Dallas, Willing to Take Pay Cut

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 24, 2023

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 22: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on prior to an NFL divisional round playoff football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium on January 22, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
Michael Owens/Getty Images

Ezekiel Elliott has played his entire NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys, and he is reportedly willing to take a pay cut to ensure that continues.

Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News reported the running back, who is set to make $10.9 million in salary during the 2023 campaign, understands that "a reduced salary can better fit him into the franchise's plans."

Dallas made the Ohio State product the league's highest-paid running back with a six-year, $90 million contract extension in 2019, and he is not scheduled for unrestricted free agency until 2027 under his current deal.

While signing a running back to such a massive contract comes with a significant element of risk given how the position has gradually come to be seen as a fairly replaceable one, Dallas could at least take solace at the time of the extension in the fact Elliott was one of the league's best.

He led the league in rushing as a rookie in 2016 with 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. He topped the NFL again with 1,434 rushing yards in 2018 and made his third career Pro Bowl in his fourth season in 2019.

However, Elliott's production has trended in the wrong direction of late.

His 3.8 yards per carry in 2022 was a career-worst mark, as was his 58.4 yards per game. He led the NFL in the latter category in each of his first three years, but he looked less explosive than Tony Pollard for much of the past season.

Things got even worse in the playoffs when he posted 27 yards on 13 carries in the win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 26 yards on 10 carries in Sunday's loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

It was easy to speculate that his final snap with Dallas came when head coach Mike McCarthy lined him up at center in a failed trick play to end the game against the 49ers. If that was the case, it was an unceremonious end as he got run over while trying to protect Dak Prescott to set up a play with multiple laterals.

The Cowboys would surely be more willing to bring him back on a lower salary even amid the drop in production. He still managed 12 touchdowns in 2022 and was effective in goal-line and short-yardage situations a number of times.

Perhaps a reduced role for a reduced salary could work for both sides as Elliott attempts to rediscover his previous form.