Cowboys eye Elliott reunion amid RB shortage

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FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys have yet to fill their running back need, but the return of Ezekiel Elliott looks more and more likely.

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones would not say the Cowboys have an agreement in place with Elliott, who played for Dallas from 2016-22, but he has acknowledged interest in Elliott.

Jones was asked Friday whether not drafting a running back during the first three rounds was more about the way the draft has fallen or the Cowboys’ comfort level of what they have on the roster.

“First of all, the draft’s not over and that’s a thought,” Jones said. “And it was a long time before a running back was taken in today’s draft. But we also are keenly interested in seeing what the future might look like with Zeke.”

The Cowboys met with Elliott and his agent, Rocky Arceneaux, earlier this week to discuss a potential reunion. Then later Elliott and Arceneaux happened to go to the same restaurant, Dee Lincoln Prime, where the Cowboys were holding a scouts’ dinner.

Jones said he still believes Elliott can be a starting-level running back.

Elliott led the Patriots with 642 yards rushing on 184 carries with three touchdowns. He also had a team-high 51 catches for 313 yards and two scores. His 642 yards, however, were a career low. He saw a significant increase in workload in the final five weeks of the year after top rusher Rhamondre Stevenson was sidelined with a high-ankle sprain.

“I know this, I saw as recent as the end of the year, I saw Zeke play,” Jones said. “And I will tell you he’s good enough to be a starter.”

In the final five games, Elliott did not run for more than 68 yards and averaged more than 3.1 yards per carry just once.

The Cowboys lost Tony Pollard, their leading rusher the last two seasons, in free agency but re-signed Rico Dowdle and added veteran Royce Freeman. They also have Deuce Vaughn, Malik Davis and Snoop Conner at tailback.

From 2016-22 with the Cowboys, Elliott ran for 8,262 yards, third-most in team history behind Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett. He led the NFL in rushing in 2016 and 2018 but has not topped 1,000 yards since 2020 (1,002). He was named an All-Pro once and was selected to the Pro Bowl three times.

Even if the Cowboys add a running back Saturday in the draft, Elliott, who turns 29 in July, would still be in the picture.

“We have it in our power to feel good about the running back room. Period. Now are we through with the running back room? I’m not going to answer that,” Jones said. “Not trying to be coy. I just don’t need to answer that. But Zeke’s good enough to be in the running back room and he’s good enough to play for the Cowboys. I’d say that.”

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