Who can forget the final play of the 2022 season for the Dallas Cowboys? There's running back Ezekiel Elliott, lined up as the center (?) to snap it to quarterback Dak Prescott on what was supposed to be some sort of a trick play. As soon as Elliott snapped the ball, San Francisco 49ers (now Tennessee Titans) linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair trucked Eilliot in what turned out to be a disastrous end to the Cowboys' campaign.

With that, the 49ers defeated Dallas 19-12 in the NFC Divisional Round, and in what seems like a broken record these days, the Cowboys were left to wonder how so much promise ended in destructive disappointment. One of the questions awaiting them in the offseason was whether or not to bring Elliott back for next season.

Upon watching that last play, one would hope that's not the note Elliott would get released on, but the NFL can be a cutthroat business. With that being said, it was almost certain the Cowboys weren't bringing the seven-year pro out of Ohio State back if it was going to be a $16.7 million cap hit. In other words, getting ran over by Al-Shaair would turn out to be the last play for Elliott wearing the star on his helmet.

It's definitely not the note anyone would want to go out on, especially when that player was so productive during the time in a particular spot. But life happens fast, and for a running back in the NFL, it's double the speed of fast.

Now, Elliott is a free agent for the first time in his career, and even with his position being as expendable as ever, there’s still value from having him. One of the teams that could benefit from having Elliott on their roster is the Cincinnati Bengals, and the opportunity to sign him is there if they want to take it.

Why Bengals must sign Ezekiel Elliott

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Before diving into why Elliott needs to be signed by Cincinnati, let's look at the running back situation for the Bengals. They had the duo of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine combining for opportunities. Coming into the offseason, it appeared Mixon would be the one that was questionable to return, and the alleged issues he's had off the field didn't help his case. As it turns out, Mixon is still a Bengal, while Perine ended up signing with the Denver Broncos.

The unexpected departure of Perine leaves a spot open next to Mixon (assuming he stays), and it looks like a perfect landing spot for Ezekiel Elliott if the two sides prove to be compatible. In a potential combo with Mixon, Elliott could be the thumper while the former can be the back that's more all-purpose. Before asking if that was the same role Elliott had with the Cowboys, yes it is, but with Cincinnati, there's more weapons and a better quarterback (I believe Joe Burrow is better than Dak Prescott).

In other words, there would be more room for Elliott to operate between the tackles, and being in the same backfield with Burrow can make the play-action game devastating for opposing defenses. Another reason this would be a perfect match is the amount of motivation Elliott would have, combined with the Bengals being ever so close to winning a Super Bowl. There's no shortage of memes and jokes about the trucking Elliott received, and Cincinnati has probably seen and heard enough about the Kansas City Chiefs being champions.

Finally, It would be some sort of a homecoming for the longtime Cowboy. As mentioned earlier, Elliott played his college ball with the Buckeyes, and won a national title with them in 2014. Imagine the celebration if he is able to help the Bengals win a championship.

In conclusion, it makes all the sense in the world for the Bengals to bring Elliott in. Of course, numbers have to match up, but if they do, this is a must for a partnership. Running backs have lost value over time, but in this case, it could be the difference between coming up short, and getting over the hump. Make it happen Cincinnati.