It’s probably unimaginable for Ezekiel Elliott that the final play against the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs will be his last play for the Dallas Cowboys. The franchise decided to cut the running back just a few hours before free agency begins after seven seasons.
Last season was only the last straw that broke the camel’s back. What is not often talked about is the gradual decline of the player since his first season with the Cowboys.
Given the sample available on his career, it’s hard to believe that the back has much left to offer an NFL team. If he gets picked up, he’ll likely fill a backup role on the squad.
Ezekiel Elliott’s time with the Cowboys
Coming out of the Ohio State Buckeyes football program, Ezekiel Elliott was selected as the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. After a successful college career, Elliott, who was the first running back selected in the draft, was expected to be a crucial player for the Cowboys.
He became a pivotal player for the Cowboys right from his rookie season. He looked like the type that was worth the hype. He rushed for a career-high 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team and was selected for the Pro Bowl.
Despite his annual drop in production, he had a worthy career with the Cowboys. He was a three-time Pro Bowler and led the NFL in rushing yards on two occasions. Nonetheless, it seems the player has what it takes to have done better.
Gradual Decline in Cowboys’ Color
In Ezekiel Elliott’s seven seasons with the Cowboys, his rookie season stands out as the best. It’s been a slow and steady fall for the running back ever since. There was never a season where it looked like he improved when compared to the previous one.
This is evident in the running back’s stats. Taking a look at his running yards per game over his time with the Cowboys, Elliot rushed for 108.7 yards per game in his rookie season and never improved on that. It kept getting lower season after season until he arrived at an unimpressive 58.4 yards per game last season.
He had the most rushing yards, rushing attempts, rushing touchdowns, average yards per attempt, long rushes, and rushing first downs for his Cowboys career in the rookie season. He was never able to pull off the numbers in his remaining years with the team, but rather a decline in performance. The Cowboys must have noticed this, hence the release.