Should Jets take a flier on recently released runningback, Ezekiel Elliott in 2023?

Should Jets sign Ezekiel Elliott
FILE -Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott runs during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. The Dallas Cowboys plan to release running back Ezekiel Elliott, ending a seven-season run for a two-time rushing champion whose dominance faded, a person with knowledge of the decision said Wednesday, March 15, 2023 (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins, File)
AP Photos

With the New York Jets entering the 2023 season with playoff expectations, grabbing savvy veterans at the right value becomes extremely important. When a trade for Aaron Rodgers inevitably gets done, New York needs to surround their former MVP with plenty of offensive firepower to keep pace with some of the best offenses in the conference. 

That doesn’t mean that every player interested should be brought in though. 

Ezekiel Elliott may be a player that fits into that category. The former Dallas Cowboy was released this month due to an overwhelming cap hit and a clear decline in his play. Now, the former first-team All-Pro is looking for a new team to latch on to and has set his sights on three – the Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, and New York Jets. 

But Zeke’s interest appears to be one-sided. Neither the Eagles nor the Jets have reached out to Elliott’s camp. 

Should the Jets do so though? Should they take a flier on a player that is still just 27 years old? 

The answer, as it always is in the NFL, is more complex than a simple yes or no. In his prime, Elliott has been one of the most complete running backs in football. In seven career seasons, the former Ohio State product has totaled over 8,000 rushing yards. He’s been a pro bowler three times and has been the bell cow on a Cowboys team that has made the playoffs in four of the seasons he has played. As a short-yardage back, Zeke is truly a great value. He runs low and isn’t afraid of contact. 

But what made Elliott the fourth-overall selection and a star early in his career is also the reason for his decline. Zeke may be only 27, but he’s had over 2,000 touches – more than both Hall-of-Famers Earl Campbell and Walter Payton had at the same time of their careers. That amount of punishment leaves former star players being shells of what they once were. Elliott fits that moniker well. 

Since his rookie season in which he was a finalist for the NFL MVP award, Elliott’s yards per game average has dropped in every year he’s played. He is also coming off the worst year as a pro in 2022 when he averaged just 3.8 yards per carry. He was graded as one of the worst running backs in Pro Football last season. 

So teams like the Jets are left with an important decision to have to make. Elliott wants to play for them – a clear sign that top veterans want to play with Aaron Rodgers. The Jets could oblige and allow Elliott to only carry the ball in short-yardage situations while Breece Hall recovers from his ACL surgery. But that would also take snaps away from good young players like Michael Carter and Zonovan Knight. 

As they are lined up right now, the Jets have a good group of running backs that bring something unique to the table. When Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback, the demand for having a feature back kind of goes away as well. 

But just as the Packers found great success with AJ Dillon as a power back, Zeke could provide the power that New York could use to their advantage. 

The question of “should the Jets take a flier out on Zeke” isn’t an easy one to solve. And while the running back is hoping to have a decision made by the end of next week, there’s no guarantee that his wishlist of teams is actually even interested in him. 

For more New York Jets news, turn to AMNY.com