When NFL free agency initially began, one of the biggest cap casualties was Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Coming off a season in which has averaged a career-low 3.8 yards per carry, Elliott simply wasn’t worth the absorbent contract he had in Dallas. But now that he’s a free agent, Elliott could be a nice value signing for teams in need of a running back, assuming whatever deal he gets is minimal and only for 1-2 years.
Could the Cincinnati Bengals actually be in play for Elliott?
The report doesn’t exactly make it clear that the Bengals have mutual interest in Elliott, but this could be a great setup for both parties.
The 27-year-old Elliott obviously wants to continue his career, and playing in Ohio is something he probably wants since he played collegiately at Ohio State. He also wants to play for a title contender. The Bengals and Eagles are about as good as it gets in that regard. The Jets, meanwhile, could also become contenders with the pending trade for Aaron Rodgers.
For the Bengals, Elliott could be an ideal replacement for Samaje Perine, who has been a great backup behind Joe Mixon and even got significant touches even when Mixon was healthy. Perine is now with the Denver Broncos.
Would the Bengals be willing to pay what Elliott is asking, which is currently unknown? And would the Bengals be signing him to be the lead back?
Mixon is firmly a cap casualty candidate, and you have to think Elliott won’t be making what Mixon is currently set to make in 2023. Perhaps the Bengals could cut Mixon and effectively make Elliott RB1. Or they could get Mixon to take a paycut, sign Elliott, and have them split touches next season.
The biggest thing Elliott has going for him is he’s one of the best pass-blocking running backs in the game, an era Mixon struggles at. Perine was also a good pass blocker, so adding Elliott would help offset that loss.
Whatever the case may be, the Bengals appear to be a legitimate suitor for Elliott if he’s listing them as an option, and a decision could come as early as next week. And that decision may very well decide what the Bengals ultimately do with Mixon.
Cowboys’ RB Ezekiel Elliott has narrowed down his options about where to play to the Eagles, Jets and Bengals, and he would like to make his decision about where to sign by the end of next week, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 23, 2023
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