With the NFL draft in the rearview mirror, all eyes are on former Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and where the star playmaker will land in free agency. The Cowboys have publicly kept the door open to a potential reunion with Elliott but the more likely option is the rusher moving on from Big D in the coming weeks.
The Buccaneers opted to pass on a running back in the draft and continue to make the most sense as a potential landing spot for Elliott. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell still sees Tampa Bay as a viable option for Elliott.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucs added a veteran between now and the start of the season,” Barnwell wrote on May 3, 2023. “I’ve mooted a link between Tampa and Ezekiel Elliott, whose skill set would complement White’s and allow the second-year back to play the Tony Pollard role in Tampa. Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook could also be cut candidates in the months to come.
“With Tampa strapped for cap space and likely to pursue veterans at more expensive positions if they become available, though, [Rachaad] White’s most likely competition for starting time would have been from a draft pick.”
Elliott has opted not to discuss his future publicly, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter previously reported that the Bengals, Jets and Eagles were on the running back’s short list. The NFL insider went on to predict Elliott would sign with a new team by the end of March but months have passed with the running back remaining unsigned.
These three franchises have gone out of their way to downplay the potential of signing Elliott. Contenders like the Bills and Eagles have also either traded for or signed new veteran running backs. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott remains an advocate for Elliott as the playmaker seeks a new home with the former teammates continuing to work out together this offseason.
“He’s my best friend,’’ Prescott told The Dallas Morning News’ David Moore during an April 21 interview. “Hell yeah I’m throwing with him. … His mindset is just getting better, period. However he can. He’s working his a** off.”
All signs point to Rachaad White being the Buccaneers’ lead back this season with Chase Edmonds and Ke’Shawn Vaughn fighting for additional snaps. Elliott represents a potential short yardage running back but that the Bucs do not currently have on the roster and could also be an asset in goal line situations. The former Pro Bowler also likely has an advocate in Tampa after the team hired former Cowboys running backs coach Skip Peete back in February.
Could the Buccaneers have competition for Elliott with the Chiefs? During an exclusive interview with Heavy Sports, Kansas City running back Isiah Pacheco gushed over Elliott and admitted to being open to sharing a backfield with the star. This could be less likely now after the Chiefs re-signed veteran Jerick McKinnon.
“Ezekiel Elliott, that’s my dog. I’ve been watching him growing up, watched film on him, take [down] details, dropped notes [on his game],” Pacheco explained to Heavy Sports during a April 28 interview. “Just finding ways to get better on the field is something I take very personally.
“…Hey, I’m with it [Elliott signing with the Chiefs], whatever he makes the decision. I’m willing and I’m ready to compete if he’s ready. So, we’ll see.”