The Dallas Cowboys may have just found their Ezekiel Elliott replacement in the backfield.
Ezekiel Elliott is one of several high-profile free agents left on the board at the running back position. He could theoretically still return to Dallas, but the Cowboys appear content to survey the market elsewhere and hand expanded duties to Tony Pollard, who has been the more efficient runner in recent years.
To further the odds of Elliott’s exile from Dallas, a new high-profile RB just hit the free agent market: Dalvin Cook.
The Vikings are expected to release Cook, allowing the 27-year-old to find his next home while Alexander Mattison takes over three-down duties in Minnesota. The move will save the Vikings roughly $9 million in cap space.
Should the Dallas Cowboys replace Ezekiel Elliott with Dalvin Cook?
Cook and Elliott play similar roles, only Cook is currently far more effective in that role. Both powerful downhill runners who can vacuum up short-yardage gains, the Cowboys would benefit from Cook’s blunt physicality as a complement to Pollard’s evasive finesse.
The Cowboys can likely sign Cook for a discount considering the saturated running back market and the NFL’s general trend away from high-usage, veteran backs. Cook has 1,282 NFL carries under his belt and a lot of mileage on his knees. Dallas can balance his workload with Pollard behind one of the best offensive lines in football. It’s the perfect set-up both ways.
Cook will naturally draw interest from other teams. Even in what many considered a down year, Cook ran for 1,173 years and caught for 295 more with 10 combined touchdowns in 2022. He’s still a force to be reckoned with at the goal line and the Cowboys aren’t the only team in the NFL wanting for experience at the running back spot.
Meanwhile, Elliott’s future only gets murkier. Teams that were previously mulling Elliott will probably shift their focus to Cook for the time being. The market for Elliott was already slow; now it’s barely a crawl.
The Cowboys have the natural appeal of being “America’s team,” plus there’s plenty of impressive offensive personnel to sway Cook’s decision. Beyond the offensive line, Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, and Brandin Cooks are guys who players want to play with.
Dallas finished 12-5 in the toughest division in football last season. There’s a real pathway toward contention for the Cowboys in 2023, and one has to imagine the post-prime Cook would like to add a Super Bowl to his impressive résumé before it’s too late. Dallas is the destination to watch.