Cowboys and running back Ezekiel Elliott reuniting after agreeing to deal, AP source says


DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys are reuniting with running back Ezekiel Elliott after agreeing to terms on a contract with the former two-time rushing champion, a person with knowledge of the deal said Monday.

Elliott returns to the Cowboys a year after they let him go in a cost-cutting move. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement was pending a physical.

The Cowboys acknowledged during the draft last weekend that they had recently met with Elliott and his representatives.

Dallas didn’t draft a running back after moving from its starter each of the past two seasons, and owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he thought Elliott was still a starting-caliber back.

Elliott rejoins a team that includes Rico Dowdle, Elliott’s teammate from 2020-22, and second-year players Deuce Vaughn and Hunter Luepke. Dallas also added journeyman Royce Freeman this offseason.

Elliott, who will turn 29 just as the Cowboys report for training camp in California in July, spent last season as the backup to Rhamondre Stevenson in New England but started the last five games when Stephenson was injured.

Elliott won rushing titles in two of his first three seasons with the Cowboys and is the third-leading rusher in franchise history with 8,262 yards. He trails two Pro Football Hall of Famers — all-time NFL rushing leader Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett.

Tony Pollard, a fourth-round pick by Dallas in 2019, replaced Elliott last season but didn’t have an impact to match his $10.1 million salary playing on the franchise tag. Pollard signed with Tennessee in free agency.

In 2016, Elliott teamed with quarterback Dak Prescott to create a dynamic rookie pairing that led the Cowboys on an 11-game winning streak and the top seed in the NFC playoffs.

Prescott then edged out Elliott for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors after the Cowboys lost to Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay.

Elliott never matched the 1,631 yards rushing from his rookie season. His second year was marred by a two-month court fight with the NFL over a six-game suspension involving domestic violence allegations. Elliott served the suspension nine games into the season after losing an appeal.

The 2016 All-Pro still led the NFL in yards rushing per game in his second season, then won his other rushing title with 1,434 yards in 2018.

Elliott missed the offseason and training camp in 2019 in a contract holdout, finally joining the Cowboys during the week before the season opener after signing a $90 million, six-year extension.

While Elliott scored 22 touchdowns combined over the final two seasons of his first Dallas stint, he surpassed 1,000 yards just once in three years after signing the expensive extension.

Elliott rushed for 642 yards and three touchdowns in what ended up being coach Bill Belichick’s final season with the Patriots in 2023. Elliott visited the Cowboys in Week 4, gaining just 16 yards in New England’s 38-3 loss.

While they won 12 games for the third consecutive season in 2023, the Cowboys missed Elliott’s powerful running style in short-yardage situations.

Dallas is in flux with its offensive line, having to replace two starters. Three of Dallas’ eight draft picks last weekend were offensive linemen. Elliott’s return, however, would bolster the club’s pass protection.



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