Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Scouting Combine tampering will determine Ezekiel Elliott’s future

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 22: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on during the national anthem prior to an NFL divisional round playoff football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium on January 22, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Tampering routinely happens, in two primary ways.

First, teams talk to agents about impending free agents before the window for having such discussions opens. Second, teams talk to agents whose clients are under contract, but who are expected to be faced with a request to take a pay cut.

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott falls into the latter category.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported on Thursday that Elliott’s agents will “figure out his value to other teams” at the Scouting Combine, before determining whether to take a pay cut with the Cowboys -- or to refuse to do it.

Elliott is due to make $10.9 million in 2023. If he’s released with a post-June 1 designation, he’d cost $5.82 million against the cap in 2023, and $6.192 million in 2024. Without that deferral, the Cowboys would take a $12 million cap charge in 2023.

His current cap number for 2023 is $16.72 million.

The entire approach outlined by Schefter constitutes tampering. His nonchalance in explaining the strategy reconfirms that tampering happens all the time. As long as teams are relatively discreet, they don’t get in trouble for it.

Without tampering, Elliott would have to decide on whether to take the Cowboys’ best offer without knowing what could be lurking behind Door No. 2.

For Elliott’s agents, there’s nothing wrong with trying to figure it out. It remains a violation for the teams to do it.

But every team does it, to the point that any that don’t are facing a significant competitive disadvantage.