Was the ‘Ezekiel Elliott Era’ Worth It for the Dallas Cowboys?

Was the ‘Ezekiel Elliott Era’ Worth It for the Dallas Cowboys?
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

The Ezekiel Elliott era with the Dallas Cowboys could be coming to an end soon as the team might choose to release him before the new league year starts. At the very least, the expectation is that the Cowboys will ask him to take a massive pay cut to stay on the roster.

Elliott’s play has declined significantly over the last few years. Since the 2020 season, Elliott has averaged just 4.0 yards per carry and only 60.8 rushing yards per game, despite being one of the highest-paid running backs in the NFL.

Texas sports betting is not yet legal, but Cowboys fans across the country surely have wagered on their team based on Elliott’s ability to impact the offense.

One of the other parts of his game that has declined has been his ability to break tackles. During the 2018 season, Elliott broke 24 tackles per Pro-Footbal- Reference.com. But he’s broken a combined 18 tackles over the last two seasons. Add on the fact that he no longer can hit long runs and it’s clear that he is a descending player who is starting to wear down.

However, it wasn’t always like this. Elliott was the NFL’s best running back for the first three years of his career. In those seasons, he racked up a combined 5,247 yards and 34 touchdowns in 40 games. He was one of the most dominant offensive players in the league for a few years.

BetTexas.com, your source for the best Texas sports betting promo codes, wondered about whether the Elliott years were worth it. Utilizing Pro-Football-Reference.com to compile the statistics of Elliott over the course of his career, let’s try to determine if he was worth the high draft choice if the team decides to move on.

Ezekiel Elliot’s Statistics Rank In NFL



SeasonRush Yards Per Game RankTouchdowns Rank
🏈 20161st >3rd
🏈 20171st11th
🏈 20181st20th
🏈 20195th5th
🏈 202014th26th
🏈 202115th6th
🏈 202224th7th

The Cowboys used the No. 4 pick on Elliott during the 2016 NFL Draft, passing on Jalen Ramsey (who went No. 5). That was a controversial pick at the time, but it was tough to disagree too much considering Elliott averaged 131 total yards per game during the first 40 starts of his career.

The Cowboys' mistake was giving Elliott a contract extension so quickly. After selecting him in 2016, they had him under contract until the 2020 season with his fifth-year option. Instead, Dallas gave him a record-setting deal before the 2019 season and that is when his play started to decline. If the Cowboys  would have just let Elliott play out his rookie deal, they could have moved on from him after the 2020 season, when it was clear that his play was declining.

The Verdict on Ezekiel Elliott

So, was the Elliott era worth it for Dallas? The answer is still yes.

Elliott started 102 regular season games with the Cowboys, totaling more than 10,000 yards from scrimmage. He helped them win a lot of big games and Dallas made it to the playoffs four times during his stint with the team.

While it appears the Elliott era is ending, don't rule out the possibility of him returning on a much smaller deal as the Cowboys do love his toughness and ability to win near the goal line. He's scored 24 touchdowns over the last two seasons, despite a smaller role on offense.

So, there is still a chance that both parties will come together and find a solution to keep No. 21 in Dallas. But the days of Elliott as an All-Pro caliber running back are long gone.

It will be a long shot for the Lone Star State to have betting legal and launched by football season, of course. Here is a look at the latest bill headed to the Texas Legislature.

If that passes, it won't be too much longer until bettors can start using the best Texas sports betting apps



Marcus Mosher covers the NFL, NFL Draft and NFL news for BetTexas.com. The host of the Locked On Cowboys podcast, Marcus also has been the managing editor of The Raiders Wire and contributor to The Athletic DFW, Pro Football Weekly, FanSided and FanRag Sports.

Cited by leading media organizations, such as: