Ezekiel Elliott reunion far better than Cowboys other top RB choice in free agency

Reuniting with running back Ezekiel Elliott should be an easy choice for the Dallas Cowboys, especially considering their other potential option in free agency.

New York Jets v New England Patriots
New York Jets v New England Patriots / Kathryn Riley/GettyImages

Despite how things transpired between longtime franchise running back Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys last offseason, the two sides have seemingly never shut the door on a potential reunion down the road, which feels more realistic now than ever following the departure of Tony Pollard.

Rico Dowdle, an undrafted player entering his fourth year as a pro, holds the top spot on the Cowboys depth chart at the running back spot. Oof.

No disrespect to Dowdle, but Dallas has a massive need to fill the position with an experienced starting-caliber option, and reuniting with Elliott may be their best choice, especially compared to the alternative veteran free agent the team is reportedly considering – Dalvin Cook. 

Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News said the Cowboys are exploring the possibility of signing either Elliott or Cook, referring to them as “two veteran options who stand to draw strong club consideration as free agency progresses.” 

However, Elliott would be the far better addition of the two based on what we saw from them last season in their first year away from the teams that drafted them. Zeke showed signs of age and decline but was still productive as a goalline threat while providing a reliable backfield option in the passing game as a receiver and blocker, which was not the case for Cook, who appeared to be on his last legs in 2023.

Cowboys must prioritize Ezekiel Elliot over Dalvin Cook

After signing an incentive-laden deal with the New York Jets during the 2023 offseason, Cook looked like a shell of the four-time Pro Bowler as recent as 2022, rushing for 214 scoreless yards on 67 attempts. He finished last among all NFL running backs in rushing yards over expected, providing virtually nothing for the Jets before they waived him ahead of their regular season finale.

Gehlken cites Elliott’s connection to the franchise after a seven-year stint from 2016-22 and Cook’s relationship with Dallas defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who was his head coach for five seasons during his tenure with the Minnesota Vikings, mentioning how people “familiar with the players’ thinking” are interested in potentially signing with the Cowboys.

However, Gehlken also didn’t rule out the idea of the Cowboys bringing in one of Elliott or Cook “in conjunction with a rookie pick,” adding that it “appears all but certain Dallas will select a running back” in the 2024 NFL Draft