FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys are officially moving on from running back Ezekiel Elliott.
After numerous reports on Wednesday regarding Elliott's future with the team, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made the news official in a statement.
"We have mutually agreed with Zeke that the best decision for everyone is that he will be able to experience free agency, and we can increase our flexibility and options as well," Jones said.
The move was reportedly expected to come around 3 p.m. Wednesday, when the league's calendar year begins and teams have to be under the salary cap.
While Elliott still has four years remaining on his contract, the Cowboys could walk away from the deal this year, with four years and roughly $40 million remaining. Elliott's "dead cap" money for 2023 is around $11.8 million, according to Spotrac. Dead cap money is the amount that counts toward a team's salary cap for a player who has been cut.
Beyond the dead cap, Elliott's contract was not guaranteed beyond the 2022 season.
Cutting Elliott marks the end of an era for the Cowboys offense.
"This is one of the toughest parts of operating a team. Moments like this come, and extremely difficult decisions and choices are made. For the franchise. For me personally. For players too," Jones said. "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."
Elliott, 27, starred for Dallas in the early years of his career after getting drafted fourth overall out of Ohio State.
He immediately made an impact, leading the league in rushing yards (1,631) his rookie season and helping fellow rookie Dak Prescott lead the Cowboys to an NFC East division title.
Elliott was suspended for the first six games of 2017 after a woman accused him of domestic violence while at Ohio State. Elliott was not charged in the case, but his appeals to get the suspension reduced did not work.
Both he and the Cowboys had better seasons in 2018, when Elliott rushed for 1,434 yards and six touchdown passes to go along with 77 catches for 567 yards.
Elliott earned his third Pro Bowl selection in four seasons - but the final of his career - in 2019, rushing for 1,357 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Elliott's production slipped in 2020 and then into his final two seasons with Dallas. While he still racked up consistent yardage - including 1,002 yards in 2021 - and posted double-digit touchdown numbers the last two years, his efficiency declined as Tony Pollard became the Cowboys' big-play back.
In 2022, Elliott averaged 3.8 yards per carry to Pollard's 5.2.
The Cowboys walking away from Elliott's contract was always a possibility, especially with the rise of Pollard, who received a one-year franchise tag deal earlier this month. The franchise tag will pay Pollard $10.09 million in 2023.
Here's the rest of Jones' statement on Elliott:
"Zeke’s impact and influence is seared into the Cowboys franchise in a very special and indelible way. He has been a consummate professional and leader that set a tone in our locker room, on the practice field and in the huddle. Zeke defined what a great teammate should be, and anyone that has ever played a team sport would be lucky to have a teammate like Zeke and be much better for it. His commitment and passion for winning is selfless, and the accountability he brings everyday earned the respect of our coaches, his teammates and our entire organization. He wore the Cowboys Star with pride and purpose every single time he put it on, and we’re a better franchise because of the example he set for veterans and rookies alike. That carried over into our community as well, with Zeke’s generosity and spirit about giving and caring for others."