Ezekiel Elliott’s detainment at EDC Las Vegas this past weekend was the latest of his off-the-field misadventures. Elliott has already been suspended for violating the league’s domestic abuse policy back in 2017, and what we’ll call an unflattering video of him at Mardi Gras made the rounds a few offseasons ago. There’s no doubt Elliott is talented, but he has yet to show that he can keep his head down when he isn’t playing football. That apparently doesn’t bother Stephen Jones.
All things considered, maybe it should. Elliott has proven to be quite the handful when he isn’t playing football, in trouble with either the law or the league on a pretty regular basis. The flip side of the argument, of course, is that he’s dominant when he is on the field. But how much weight does that argument hold in today’s NFL?
The value of the running back has been plummeting for years now. Teams have widely accepted the idea of running back by committee bringing more value than a high-priced running back. Part of that is the nature of the position. So much of their success is not only dependent on their offensive line, but also the gameplan, what the defense tries to do, and how both teams counter one another. Those factors don’t apply as much to a talent like Saquon Barkley, who’s good enough to take it to the house at any time, even if he goes up against a 10-man box. Elliott, while good, isn’t at that level.
That isn’t a knock on Elliott by any means, because Barkley is a freak of nature. Elliott is still a very good running back. But very good running backs simply aren’t worth the money they once were. If the Cowboys can draft a player who can provide 75% of what Elliott does at 25% of the cost, that should be an easy decision. Pair that with the various headaches and issues that Elliott has forced the organization to deal with as a result of his off-the-field activities, most organizations would consider let him walk.
Since Elliott is good for around 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns per year and is one of the better dual threats in the league, it makes sense the Cowboys would rather keep him. But giving Elliott, a good player at a position of plummeting value who can’t stay out of his own way off the field, a big extension would be a terrible move. He’s a risk to get himself in legal trouble or suspended, and as a running back, his prime will be over within five years if he doesn’t suffer any injuries, an unlikely outcome for any NFL running back.
There’s a reason the smart teams in the NFL load up on young running backs and let them go before the end of their rookie contract. Running backs have short shelf lives, much less one who seems to attract trouble like Elliott. The Jones family should reconsider their stance before it’s too late.