By Alex Al-Kazzaz
For several weeks, there was strong speculation that Ezekiel Elliott's time with the Dallas Cowboys was ending. After Dallas' 2021 season, it was believed that Elliott's days in Dallas were numbered. The former Ohio State Buckeyes running-back is coming off a season with many career-lows. Since 2018, his production has continually dropped.
Elliott, 27, leaves Dallas as the organization's third all-time rush leader with 8, 262 yards. During his time, Elliott was a three-time Pro Bowler as well as a two-time NFL rushing leader (2016 and 2018). Dallas drafted Elliott fourth overall at the 2016 NFL Draft. What started off as a marriage made in heaven has ended as a nasty divorce.
Where did it all go wrong for Elliott and the Cowboys? That's tough to answer. His second year in the league was rattled due to legal issues that saw him suspended for six games. Elliott would appeal but ultimately serve the suspension which halted major momentum for him and Dallas. But he would recover as in 2018, he was the league's leading rusher and Dallas had a respectable season finish.
It's fair to say that after he signed a massive six-year contract in 2019, it all began to go wrong. Production began declining and it worsened and worsened. After no improvement at all after 2020, 2021 was supposed to be a year of redemption, but it didn't happen. At that point, hope was all lost. All the debating about how Tony Pollard was justifiably deserving of the starting position was only clouding the judgement surrounding the Elliott drama.
Dallas recently placed the franchise tag on Pollard. Now, there's speculation that Dallas could be looking to draft RB Bijan Robinson out of the University of Texas in the first round. With the departure of Elliott, Dallas does need to rebuild a strong running game. In that case, they need to assemble an effective offensive line.
Earlier this month, Mike McCarthy made a comment that he wanted to "run the damn ball so I can rest my defense' which would possibly indicate that he may set up a heavy run threat for 2023. McCarthy will be calling the plays for Dallas for the 2023 season. It's clear that Dallas desperately needs a strong running game. McCarthy seems adamant on making establishing one.