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Cowboys leaving the door open for Ezekiel Elliott’s return

Mike Florio and Chris Simms break down what Ronald Jones is capable of accomplishing in a one-year deal with Dallas and explore what Ezekiel Elliott’s options are moving forward.

Ezekiel Elliott put out a wish list of teams he’d like to play for, with the Eagles, Bengals and Jets on it. The free agent running back, though, has not received much interest.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor seemed to indicate last week his team doesn’t have an interest in Elliott, and Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday he likes his running backs room.

That could leave the door open for the Cowboys to re-sign Elliott after the draft, something Mike McCarthy told NFL Media the team “absolutely” is doing. Owner Jerry Jones later reiterated that possibility.

“I don’t want to ever leave him hanging or fans hanging or anybody,” Jones said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “But I wouldn’t take any possibility off the table.”

Elliott was willing to take a pay cut to stay, but the Cowboys never offered one.

“No, no specifically, no,” Jones said definitively.

Elliott ranks third on the team’s all-time rushing list and was a team leader, but his $10.9 million base salary and $16.7 million cap hit were prohibitive. With no guaranteed money left on Elliott’s deal, it was a no-brainer for the Cowboys to move on.

They will have Tony Pollard back on the $10.1 million franchise tag.

“It was all about making the adjustment principally because of the cap because of where we were,” Jones said of releasing Elliott with a post-June 1 designation. “Love to have him but again, with what we need to do to make our cap work and what we can do to really, in our mind, improve through scheme or another player, that was worth us saving that money on the cap.”

Despite the Cowboys leaving the light on, it’s likely Elliott ends up elsewhere. The Cowboys already have signed Ronald Jones to backup Pollard.

“Well, Zeke gave us everything he had and more,” Jones said. “And we gave him everything we had and more. So that’s the way you’d like to end it.”