Ezekiel Elliott, a former running back for the Cowboys, encountered a harsh truth.

The Dallas Cowboys have kept the door cracked open for a potential Ezekiel Elliott return but a reunion has been dubbed “highly unlikely” by a noted team insider.

The Cowboys parted ways with Elliott on March 15 in a cap-saving move, bringing an end to his seven-season stay with the team. He made an impact during his time in a Cowboys uniform, leading the league in rushing twice and collecting three Pro Bowl selections.

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But his hefty contract combined with a drop in production made it an easy call for the Cowboys to go in a different direction.

Jon Machota of The Athletic was asked about a potential reunion with Elliott in his latest mailbag column but wasn’t too bullish on the idea of it coming to fruition.

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“I think it would be a little awkward, but if the price was right, I would be on board. He was a leader behind the scenes,” Machota wrote. “While he was no longer producing like a top back, he was still getting it done in short-yardage situations, which hasn’t exactly been replaced since he was released. If both sides were in agreement, it would make sense. With all of that being said, I think it’s highly unlikely.”

Limited Interest for Ezekiel Elliott in Free Agency

Elliott had 876 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2022 but his per carry average dropped to a career-low 3.8. Coming off the down year, Elliott remains a free agent and he hasn’t received a ton of interest on the open market.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has teased a potential reunion with Zeke multiple times this offseason, most recently after the NFL Draft.

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“Ship has not sailed,” Jones told reporters, via the team website. “We haven’t made a decision. We’ve obviously drafted [Deuce Vaughn], a little different style than Zeke, but it doesn’t change. …For us, as far as our interest in Zeke, nothing we did today changes that.”

The Cowboys have said they did not offer Elliott a contract after parting ways out of fear of “insulting” someone they dubbed “one of the best players to ever put on a Cowboys uniform.” But at this point in free agency, a reunion at a lower number doesn’t seem completely out of the question.

Elliott has also stayed in close contact with his former Cowboys teammates, working out with quarterback Dak Prescott and others this offseason. Prescott has been a vocal supporter of Elliott returning.

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“That sure would be nice. There are a lot of people not only on the team but in the organization that would love that. I’m sure Zeke would as well,” Prescott said during an apperance on the Adam Schefter Podcast. “Hopefully that could happen.’”

Chargers Have Been Linked to Ezekiel Elliott

If Elliott does not return to Dallas, a team that makes a lot of sense for him is the Los Angeles Chargers. His former offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is now there and the Chargers could use a short-yardage specialist behind Austin Ekeler.

Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports identified the Chargers as a fit for Elliott.

“Los Angeles isn’t in dire need of a running back as long as Austin Ekeler is in tow, but Ekeler is at his best as a passing outlet for Justin Herbert, and despite a relatively inefficient closing chapter with the Cowboys, Elliott still has the wherewithal to hold a rotational role. New Chargers coordinator Kellen Moore is also familiar with Zeke from their days in Dallas.”

Elliott is likely to find a home before training camp — but will he be wearing a star on the side of his helmet when all is said and done?

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