It’s possible, and likely probable without a paycut for 2023, that Ezekiel Elliott is playing his final season with the Cowboys. He has insisted for months now that he’s not looking that far ahead.
But he is looking even farther ahead in his career.
The running back wants to play long enough to reach 10,000 yards. He currently ranks 58th in NFL history with 7,386 yards.
“Obviously, that’s a goal, winning a Super Bowl, getting a gold jacket,” Elliott said, via Jon Machota of TheAthletic.com. “There’s not many guys with gold jackets that didn’t rush for 10,000 yards.”
Earl Campbell, Jim Taylor, Larry Csonka and Terrell Davis are among the running backs to earn Hall of Fame induction without hitting the magic number. But 10,000 yards also doesn’t guarantee induction. Sixteen of the 31 rushers to reach 10,000 yards have a gold jacket, with Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson not yet eligible for enshrinement.
Elliott’s yards per game have fallen every one of his six seasons to a low of 58.9 last season when he played most of the season with a knee injury. At his current career average of 83.9 yards per game, he will need 31 games to reach 10,000 yards.
Elliott, a two-time rushing champion, a three-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro, is not expected to play in the preseason as he readies for his seventh NFL season.
“I’ve been playing football 20 years,” Elliott said. “This is my seventh year (in the NFL). I’ve seen a lot of football. I don’t think I need a preseason game, especially with the joint practices (with the Broncos and Chargers).”
What he does need is a good regular season to get back into the conversation as one of the league’s best running backs. That will get him a better pay day in 2023 than another season like the past two.