This time last year it felt inevitable that the Dallas Cowboys would be starting over at the running back position in 2023. Multiple things made this the case, chief among them being that the Cowboys could finally move on from Ezekiel Elliott’s contract and that Tony Pollard’s rookie contract was expiring. The Zeke deal has aged poorly for the Cowboys front office so it felt unlikely that they would hand out another one to the same position while letting him go in parallel.
It remains to be seen what will ultimately happen with Ezekiel Elliott, but it appears that the Cowboys plan on offering Tony Pollard a second contract. Exactly what that contract will ultimately be remains to be seen, but at the very least they are apparently going to give him the franchise tag.
The Cowboys are prepared to place the franchise tag on Tony Pollard if no long-term deal is reached by Tuesday
With different NFL dignitaries speaking this week at the NFL Combine, we finally got to hear from Stephen Jones and Mike McCarthy. The former spoke rather confidently of Tony Pollard’s future with the team and noted that the Cowboys would “more than likely” use their franchise tag. Putting two and two together suggested that tag, Pollard is about to be it.
NFL teams have until Tuesday, March 7th to place the franchise tag on players so if the Cowboys do not have a deal in place with Pollard, and if they do not want to lose him, then they will have to apply the tag. According to NFL Network they are prepared to do that.
The #Cowboys will franchise tag RB Tony Pollard if the two sides cannot work out a long-term deal by the Tuesday deadline, sources say. Dallas has been clear the tag is an option, and they aren't in the business of letting great players walk. Pollard will be there in 2023.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 4, 2023
Friday also brought news that the Las Vegas Raiders are prepared to place the franchise tag on running back Josh Jacobs so that will be a situation for Dallas to monitor. Assuming they both wind up tagged and playing on it both Pollard and Jacobs will make $10.091M in 2023.
This news means that Pollard will be playing for the Cowboys in 2023 which is good news because he is the team’s most explosive player. He is coming off of a fractured fibula suffered in the season-ending loss to the San Francisco 49ers, but according to Stephen Jones he will be ready for training camp.
With Pollard counting that much against the cap (barring a long-term deal that changes the figure), the Cowboys still need to figure out what they are going to do with Ezekiel Elliott. They could restructure his deal, but they are already prepared to commit a sizable amount to the running back position to a non-Zeke player.