AP source: Cowboys to release 2-time rushing champ Elliott

By SCHUYLER DIXON | AP Pro Football Writer

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) during an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

The Dallas Cowboys plan to release running back Ezekiel Elliott, ending a seven-season run for a two-time rushing champion whose dominance faded, a person with knowledge of the decision said Wednesday.

Elliott will be designated a post-June 1 cut, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the decision hasn’t been announced.

The move will save Dallas about $11 million under the salary cap this season.

While Elliott finished with 12 rushing touchdowns in a second consecutive playoff season for the Cowboys in 2022, his overall production never matched the value of a $90 million, six-year extension he signed to end a preseason-long holdout in 2019.

As the quick start to Elliott’s career fizzled, 2019 fourth-round draft pick Tony Pollard emerged as the best playmaker for quarterback Dak Prescott in the Dallas offense. The Cowboys have placed the $10.1 million franchise tag on Pollard.

Elliott has 8,262 career yards rushing, third on the Dallas list behind Pro Football Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s career leading rusher, and Tony Dorsett.

Elliott was an instant star as the fourth overall pick out of Ohio State in 2016, leading the NFL with 1,631 yards as a rookie and helping the Cowboys to the top seed in the NFC alongside fellow first-year sensation Prescott, who edged his teammate for 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs during an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Scot Tucker)

Elliott’s second season was interrupted by a six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations. Elliott fought the ban in federal court, but abandoned the two-month effort 10 games into the 2017 season.

Despite the suspension, Elliott still led the league in yards rushing per game, then added a second rushing title in 2018 when he and Prescott won their first playoff game together, a wild-card victory over Seattle.

Injuries slowed Elliott somewhat in his final two seasons, although he rarely missed games. He had career lows of 876 yards and a 3.8-yard average per carry last season.

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