The Dallas Cowboys are entering the offseason short of the NFC championship game for the 27th straight season.
After losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC divisional game, significant changes could be coming in Dallas.
The Cowboys will have to make decisions on multiple unrestricted free agents, including tight end Dalton Schultz, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, and running back Tony Pollard.
Then there is running back Ezekiel Elliott, the fourth pick of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Elliott no longer has any guaranteed money tied to his contract and the Cowboys can release him without taking a big hit on the salary cap.
But Elliott is willing to restructure his contract and take a pay cut in order to remain with the Cowboys, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Following the Cowboys’ loss on Sunday, Elliott was asked if he believes he’ll be back with the team in 2023.
“I’ve definitely thought about it,” Elliott told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I want to be here. I don’t have a crystal ball. Can’t predict the future, but definitely want to be here.”
Elliott had the lowest production of his seven-year career, rushing for 876 yards on 231 carries with 12 touchdowns. He averaged a career-low 3.8 yards per attempt.
Against the 49ers, Elliott carried 10 times for 26 yards as Tony Pollard was the featured back before exiting the game with a leg injury.
Pollard suffered a fractured left fibula that will require surgery, according to ESPN.
Elliott is a respected veteran and the Cowboys are believed to have interest in his return.
“Honestly, when you talk about brotherhood and culture,” quarterback Dak Prescott said, according to The Dallas Morning News, “Zeke as much as anybody in that locker room should get that credit for being able to be light and have fun but at the same time lock in. If you want to see a guy who’s done it better than anyone, that’s him.
“For young guys to see that, that you can have fun when you come into these locker rooms and play this game, but it’s also very important when it’s time to get serious, time to study, time to make sure that you’re on your Ps and Qs, you do that. That’s Zeke for you.”
Elliott has 68 career rushing touchdowns, gaining over 1,000 yards in four of his seven NFL seasons.