Cowboys and Dallas fans are sure to miss Ezekiel Elliott after his release, but Dak Prescott may miss him more than anyone.
The running back and section linebacker were two of the franchise’s draft picks in 2016—in the first and fourth rounds, respectively—and he signed long-term deals to stay with the Cowboys.
But in a move intended to free up salary cap space, Dallas parted ways with Elliott, leaving Prescott to deal with a “difficult” situation.
“I really can’t imagine taking the field without him,” Prescott said Thursday. According to The Athletic. “I don’t know if he totally hit me yet. Obviously, I’ve talked to him. I’m in pain. I’m sure he is.”
The Cowboys officially made the cut on Wednesday, and ESPN reported The move would save Dallas about $11 million in its 2023 salary cap.
But it seemed the most likely scenario for the 27-year-old — who was playing under a six-year, $90 million contract — once the Cowboys put the franchise’s tag on Tony Pollard, who broke away from Elliott and even emerged as a better backfield option at times. .
Dallas Morning News reported in January that Elliott was willing to accept a pay cut to stay with the franchise, and at this point, it’s not clear if that approach could still unfold and end with Elliott returning under a different deal.
“This is one of the hardest parts of running a team,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he said, in part, in a statement Wednesday. “Moments like this come, and very difficult decisions and choices are made. For the franchise. For me personally. For the players too. We will always have a special place and love for Zeke and what he means to the Cowboys, both as a person and as a player. That will never change.”
Elliott led the NFL in rushing yards as a junior and in his third season, and the former Ohio State star made three Pro Bowls in his first four campaigns.
But his carries, and yards per carry, have continued to decline in the past three years, and the stretch coincided with Pollard’s emergence once the Cowboys selected him as their fourth-round pick in 2019.
“I know he has more opportunities coming his way,” Prescott said. “Love this guy, proud of him. No. 1 is supportive here for him no matter what.”
Elliott, Prescott, and the Cowboys finished with a 12-5 record in 2022 and advanced to the NFC Divisional Round before falling to the 49ers.
Pollard exited that game early after fracturing his left fibula, which required off-season surgery.
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