The Dallas Cowboys released three-time Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott on Wednesday after seven seasons with the team, and the reaction was swift.
Elliott leaves as the team’s third all-time leading rusher, having amassed 10,000 all-purpose yards and led the league in rushing yards twice.
Reports surfaced of his pending release Wednesday morning, and the Cowboys made the move official through a news release on their website.
“Zeke’s impact and influence is seared into the Cowboys franchise in a very special and indelible way,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in the release. “He has been a consummate professional and leader that set a tone in our locker room, on the practice field, and in the huddle. Zeke defined what a great teammate should be, and anyone that has ever played a team sport would be lucky to have a teammate like Zeke and be much better for it.
“His commitment and passion for winning is selfless, and the accountability he brings everyday earned the respect of our coaches, his teammates, and our entire organization,” Jones continued. “He wore the Cowboys Star with pride and purpose every single time he put it on, and we’re a better franchise because of the example he set for veterans and rookies alike. That carried over into our community as well, with Zeke’s generosity and spirit about giving and caring for others.”
Jones said the Cowboys and Elliott agreed the release was the best thing for both parties.
“He will be able to experience free agency, and we can increase our flexibility and options as well,” Jones explained.
“This is one of the toughest parts of operating a team. Moments like this come, and extremely difficult decisions and choices are made. For the franchise. For me personally. For players too. We will always have a special place and love for Zeke and what he means to our Cowboys family, both as a person and a player. That will never change.”
Analysts lamented Elliott’s contract as a “cautionary tale” for future running back contracts. At the same time, fans were quick to react to the news with mixed feelings on social media, mostly acknowledging the logic of the decision but also their sadness to see him go.
One fan attempted to put it into perspective on Twitter, saying, “Just remember all these things can be true: Zeke has declined. His cap hit is too big. He has made big contributions. He seems to be a great teammate. It will be sad to see him go. It’s time.”
The Cowboys posted a picture on Twitter with a caption that simply said. “Thank you.”
The Dallas Express Facebook page was filled with comments commending the move, like “About time” and “Should’ve done it years ago.”
Elliott saves the Cowboys $10.9 million against the salary cap as a post-June 1 cut. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers is one team expected to have interest in him as a free agent.
I love the move, Zeke played the last two years like he didn’t want to be here. I hope he can turn around his game with another team. The other Running Back should be allowed to play.
That night life will mess with your game up and destroy your career. You have several months to relax and have fun.