When the Dallas Cowboys signed former Lions running back Ezekiel Elliott to a three-year contract extension last week, the team announced the signing was “subject to NFL compliance.”
Now, the league has confirmed that Elliott’s health will be an issue.
“Due to ongoing health concerns regarding Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys have exercised their right to exercise their franchise tag to release the player,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
“The team will now negotiate with other clubs to complete the necessary paperwork to sign Ezekiel Elliott and retain his services.”
Elliott’s $11.5 million cap hit was due to the league’s “unreasonable” salary cap, which is currently $133.8 million, according to Spotrac.
But the tag could come back to the Cowboys this offseason.
“Elliott’s salary cap number was not unreasonable.
The team made significant financial sacrifices in the offseason, and the player is still one of the league ‘best’ running backs,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport wrote.
“That doesn’t mean he’s not worth the $11 million tag, though, and it’s certainly a nice bonus for Elliott fans.
That’s what Elliott fans want.
The tag is still subject to the NFL’s salary-cap guidelines, but it’s a step closer to an Elliott return.
Elliott was released by the Lions in February after he missed the entire 2016 season due to injury.
His return could have been a boon to the team’s roster and help it contend for a playoff spot.
But Elliott has struggled since his return, missing five games last season with an ACL tear.
Elliott is also on the mend from a torn ACL, which he suffered in 2016, and his knee is also sore.
Elliott will earn $3.2 million this season, which comes out to $3,854 per game.
“With respect to Elliott, that decision was not made lightly. “
After the team decided to exercise its franchise tag, it became clear the team could not make that decision without the player’s health, the NFL Players Association announced Thursday,” NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo and John Clayton reported.
“With respect to Elliott, that decision was not made lightly.
The NFLPA believes that the safety of the players on the field is paramount and it would be irresponsible to ignore the concerns of those on the playing field and in the locker room.”
Elliott is scheduled to have surgery on his right knee this week and the team is expected to release him as soon as Monday.