Dak Prescott ‘hurt’ over Ezekiel Elliott release from Cowboys

The Cowboys and Dallas fans will certainly miss Ezekiel Elliott after his release, but Dak Prescott might miss him more than anyone.

The running back and quarterback were two of the franchise’s draft picks in 2016 — in the first and fourth rounds, respectively — and signed long-term deals to remain with the Cowboys. 

But in a move designed to free up salary cap space, Dallas parted ways with Elliott, leaving Prescott to deal with a “tough” situation.

“I really can’t imagine taking the field without him,” Prescott said Thursday, according to The Athletic. “I don’t know if it’s completely hit me yet. Obviously, I’ve talked to him. I’m hurt. I’m sure he is.”

The Cowboys released Ezekiel Elliott on Wednesday after seven seasons with the team.
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The Cowboys officially made the cut on Wednesday, and ESPN reported that the move will save Dallas around $11 million on its 2023 salary cap.

But it had appeared the most likely scenario for the 27-year-old — who was playing on a six-year, $90 million contract — once the Cowboys placed the franchise tag on running back Tony Pollard, who had split carries with Elliott and even emerged as their backfield’s top option at times.

The Dallas Morning News reported in January that Elliott would’ve been willing to accept a pay cut to remain with the franchise, and at this point, it’s unclear if that approach could still unfold and end with Elliott returning under a different deal.

“This is one of the toughest parts of operating a team,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, in part, in a statement Wednesday. “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.”

Dak Prescott said it was "tough" to see former Cowboys teammate Ezekiel Elliott released.
Dak Prescott said it was “tough” to see former Cowboys teammate Ezekiel Elliott released.
Screengrab via Twitter

Elliott led the NFL in rushing yards as a rookie and in his third season, and the former Ohio State star made three Pro Bowls across his first four campaigns.

But his carries, and yards per carry, kept dipping the last three years, and the stretch coincided with Pollard’s emergence once the Cowboys selected him as their fourth-round pick in 2019.

“I know he’s got more opportunities coming his way,” Prescott said. “Love that guy, proud of him. No. 1 supporter in here for him no matter what.”

Elliott, Prescott and the Cowboys finished with a 12-5 record in 2022 and advanced to the NFC divisional round before falling to the 49ers.

Pollard exited that game early after suffering a fractured left fibula, which required offseason surgery.