Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones continues to spark rumors about a potential reunion with Ezekiel Elliott, but there could be a difference in the team’s public comments compared to the franchise’s actual desire to re-sign the star. During a May 1, 2023 interview with 105.3 The Fan’s “Shan and RJ,” ESPN’s Todd Archer noted that Jones’ comments do not reflect the team’s intent to pursue Elliott.
“I think it’s Jerry being nice, and if you really parse what he said, he’s like nothing has happened this weekend [that] has changed my mind. Well, he’s not really told us what his mind was, so his mind could be, ‘We’re not bringing the guy back,’” Archer explained. “So nothing has changed his mind. Look, Zeke should have a job in the NFL. [He] can still be an effective player. I just don’t think he’ll be in Dallas.”
Part of the challenge is veterans tend to be more likely to accept a paycut with a new team, versus being willing to take significantly less money with their longtime squad. Archer added that Elliott’s popularity in the locker room would complicate bringing back the playmaker on a bargain deal.
“I think Zeke would have such an oversized position in the locker room to what his role would actually be that it just wouldn’t make the best sense,” Archer added. “And talking to people, they kind of like what Ronald Jones can do, the guy they picked up in free agency. They just added Deuce [Vaughn], so they have some options behind Tony Pollard that it should be workable.”
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones on Rumors: ‘I Haven’t Ruled Out Zeke’
Jones’ post-draft comments went viral after emphasizing that the “ship hasn’t sailed” on the running back in Big D while adding that the team has not “ruled out Zeke.” Yet, Dallas signed Ronald Jones in free agency and drafted Deuce Vaughn on day three. The Cowboys have also done subtle things like giving Elliott’s No. 21 jersey to newly acquired corner Stephon Gilmore.
“The ship hasn’t sailed there,” Jones said following the final day of the draft, per The Athletic’s Jon Machota. “We haven’t made a decision at all. As far as our interest in Zeke, nothing we did today changes that. I haven’t ruled out Zeke.”
Cowboys Rumors: The Bucs Make a Lot of Sense for Ezekiel Elliott’s Next Stop
The picture should get clearer for Elliott’s future now that the draft has concluded. Yet, Elliott appears to be running out potential options with a number of the top contenders, including the Bills and Eagles, making moves for other veteran running backs. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported in March that Ellliott’s wish list included the Jets, Bengals and Eagles.
The Buccaneers continue to make a lot of sense after the team opted to pass on a running back in the draft. Tampa Bay also hired Elliott’s longtime position coach Skip Peete who has been an advocate for the playmaker. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell still views the Bucs as one of the top landing spots for Elliott.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucs added a veteran between now and the start of the season,” Barnwell wrote on May 3. “I’ve mooted a link between Tampa and Ezekiel Elliott, whose skill set would complement White’s and allow the second-year back to play the Tony Pollard role in Tampa. Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook could also be cut candidates in the months to come.
“With Tampa strapped for cap space and likely to pursue veterans at more expensive positions if they become available, though, [Rachaad] White’s most likely competition for starting time would have been from a draft pick.”