The Journey of Ezekiel Elliott: Where is the Former Cowboys RB Playing Now?

2016 saw the arrival of two Cowboys rookies: Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. The quarterback was selected with the 135th overall pick in the fourth round, and the running back was selected with the fourth overall pick in the first round.

They were both thrown into the team right away. Tony Romo’s injury forced Prescott to start in place of Elliott, who was supposed to be the starting running back from the start. With the running back leading the league in rushing yards and the quarterback winning Offensive Rookie of the Year, they united exhilaratingly to bring in a new era for the Dallas Cowboys.

However, their job paths have diverged since then. Dallas is still looking to go deep into the postseason this year, and Dak Prescott is at the forefront of that effort. With 26 touchdown passes and six interceptions through 12 games this season, he is in the running for MVP. Ezekiel Elliott, meanwhile, has vanished from view.

Rather, he is a member of the New England Patriots, a team with a 2-9 record that appears unlikely to make it to the postseason. Rhamondre Stevenson, who has 580 yards and twice as many touchdowns as he does, is outgaining him even in that squad after 11 games with 377 yards and two receiving touchdowns.

It demonstrates the running back’s incredible decline from grace and his career trajectory, which peaked in his debut year.

Ezekiel Elliott on a constant downward curve

With 15 games played, Ezekiel Elliott finished 2016 with 1,631 running yards. He scored 15 rushing touchdowns and gained 5.1 yards per carry on average. He only had 983 yards and participated in 10 games the next year. He made a comeback with 1,434 yards in 2018 and 1,357 yards in 2019.

But a pattern was starting to take shape. Despite making it to the Pro Bowl in three consecutive seasons (2016), 2018 and 2018, his yards per carry dropped from 5.1 to 4.7 and finally 4.5. He had less than 1000 yards and was rushing at a rate of 4 yards per carry by 2020. He gained 1,002 yards in 2021, just shy of triple digits, and he did so in 17 games. He only had 876 yards the previous season, and his yards per run fell to 3.8 from four.

It demonstrated why the Dallas Cowboys let Ezekiel Elliott go when he reached his peak as an outstanding player. He signed a deal with the New England Patriots after discovering that there were no bidders vying for his services during the offseason.

He also became the poster kid for organizations that discovered running backs frequently peaked immediately after entering the league and decided not to give them high-value contracts following their rookie agreements. Following his 2019 Pro Bowl season, he signed a six-year, $90 million contract. It was the final occasion he was chosen for it.

The New England Patriots’ current contract with Ezekiel Elliott demonstrates how much his value has declined. He has a one-year contract. It is said that his base pay is only $1.55 million. The $3 million is offered as incentives, so there’s no assurance he will receive them. According to reports, his salary cap hit is $2.9 million, which means that the Patriots are paying less for him this season than the Cowboys are.

Considering how inexpensive running backs are now thanks to the NFL Draft, Ezekiel Elliott is fortunate to be in the league. And with the current course of events, there’s no assurance he’ll return the following year. As for Dak Prescott, he continues to play and, should he maintain his form and do well in the postseason, will be searching for a new and better contract at the end of this campaign.

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