With NFL Free Agency underway, Dallas Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith has shared his thoughts on the possibility of Ezekiel Elliott returning to the team.
Smith expressed his opinion, saying, “I think Dallas needs to bring [Ezekiel Elliott] back if they can. With the uncertainty of Pollard and being the Tony Pollard that we all know – that is yet to be seen. Until that has proven itself out and he’s healthy enough to get out there and carry the football and be some form of who he used to be, that is my biggest concern.”
Emmitt Smith thinks the @dallascowboys should re-sign Ezekiel Elliott pic.twitter.com/DclMrimLnC
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) May 4, 2023
Ezekiel Elliott’s performance in 2022 included 231 carries for 876 yards and 12 touchdowns in 15 games. For RB1 (top-12) production, an impressive 85% of peak seasons come from players aged 22-28. Tristan H. Cockcroft’s research from 2008 supports the theory that running backs face a near-certain statistical decline in production when they reach 30 years old.
Examining the top 50 running backs in NFL history, Cockcroft found a 20.4% loss in touchdown production from age-29 to age-30 seasons. In just three years, from age-29 through age-32, running backs lost 39.5% of their touchdown production. Additionally, these 50 running backs experienced a minimum of 10% reduction in scrimmage-yard production each year, starting with their age-30 season.
As Elliott approaches the age of 30, his on-field production may be impacted by this statistical trend. Ultimately, owner Jerry Jones must weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of bringing him back to the team. The question remains whether the Cowboys should pursue his return, and if Ezekiel Elliott’s on-field production can defy the odds as he approaches his 30s.
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