The Dallas Cowboys are expected to release running back Ezekiel Elliott on Wednesday. Barring a surprise return, Dallas will look for a new backup to Tony Pollard.
Elliott and Pollard entered the 2022 season splitting carries, but given Zeke’s pedestrian 3.9 yards per touch, the Cowboys need more out of the running back position. Expect Pollard to take over as the main running back, receiving the majority of the carries and proving he’s an every-down back.
The Ohio State product Elliott is set to count as over $16 million against the salary cap. A restructured deal isn’t out of the question if Elliott were to return in some capacity, but his YPC suggests his best days are behind him. When Dallas gave Pollard the franchise tag, which will pay him $10.1 million next season, the writing was on the wall for Elliott. The Cowboys cannot afford a running back room with a total cost of over $27 million.
So with that in mind, where should Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones turn for a cheaper replacement for Elliott’s touches?
Cowboys rumors: Draft Roschon Johnson to replace Ezekiel Elliott
Roschon Johnson was Bijan Robinson’s backup at Texas, and the local product would excite Dallas fans as a late-round selection in the NFL Draft. Robinson receives most the hype in Austin, as to be expected from one of the best running backs in the country, but that shouldn’t take away from what Johnson can bring to the table. 105.3 The Fan in Dallas reported that the Cowboys already have some interest, via Bobby Belt:
“The guy they’re interested in at Texas is Bijan’s backup, Roschon Johnson. And Roschon Johnson is their prototype (back). Big, tough, physical runner, complete back. He came in at six-foot, 220 (pounds) at the combine. Averaged five-and-a-half yards per carry at Texas while splitting time with Bijan. That’s a guy I think they really, really like.”
Johnson did mention at the NFL Combine that he had yet to meet with Dallas’s front office, which could be a smokescreen of some sort. Or, perhaps they’re more interested in another available running back.
The NFL Draft is a great place to find backs at an affordable cost, as it’s tough to beat a rookie contract.