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Cowboys news: Dallas prepared to place the franchise tag on Tony Pollard

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NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Cowboys prepared to place franchise tag on Tony Pollard if no deal reached by Tuesday - RJ Ochoa, Blogging the Boys

By all accounts, running back Tony Pollard will be “running it back” in Dallas for 2023.

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.

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.

Report: Cowboys making no progress on deal with Leighton Vander Esch - Charean Williams, Pro Football Talk

The Cowboys can’t keep everyone, and it looks like their former first-round linebacker may be walking out the door.

Running back Tony Pollard and tight end Dalton Schultz are the Cowboys’ biggest-name players headed toward free agency. But the Cowboys have other soon-to-be free agents they would love to sign before next week.

Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the team is making “no progress” in negotiations with linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and does not have optimism about a deal for safety Donovan Wilson.

Wilson and Vander Esch were the Cowboys’ leading tacklers last season, combining for 191.

Vander Esch, the 19th overall choice in 2018, signed a one-year, $2 million deal to remain with the Cowboys in 2022. His 90 tackles were the second-most of his career behind the 140 he had in earning Pro Bowl honors as a rookie before a series of neck problems.

“I thought Leighton had a great year,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said earlier this week, via Jon Machota of TheAthletic. com. “It’ll all just boil down to the economics in terms of where he ends up. He had a hell of a year.”

Potential Cowboys first-round target subject to ‘character concerns’ at Combine - Jerry Trotta, The Landry Hat

It seems like not every player who could be drafted by the Cowboys is getting a glowing review at the combine.

Teams draft players with character and off-field concerns every year — the Cowboys are somewhat renowned for this — but having the desired character intangibles paired with freakish athleticism and potential is a foolproof way for prospects to elevate their stock.

We say all of that to say this: Potential Cowboys first-round target, cornerback Cam Smith out of South Carolina — has been subject to character concerns at the Combine.

Here’s what Walter Football’s Charlie Campbell said of Smith.

Teams quiz players on their football intelligence, but also dig into their background and character. One player who franchises were interested to speak with was South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith. The 6-foot, 190-pound Smith has quality size for the next level. Team sources, however, said character concerns are hurting Smith with teams, which have identified issues such as work ethic, makeup, and off-the-field habits.

The Cowboys are obviously no strangers to dipping their toes in the character concern pool, but this report should give the front office pause about drafting Smith in such a rich cornerback class. It’s also tough to gauge how much folks should read into this report. Every year, there’s a handful of prospects whose draft stock plummets as a result of pre-draft reporting. We saw it with Justin Fields in 2020.

Cowboys meet with several top WRs at scouting combine - Todd Brock, Cowboys Wire

Dallas needs to surround Dak Prescott with more talent. It looks like the Cowboys are leaving no stone unturned for potential rookie receivers.

Here are just a few of the big-name wide receiver prospects the Cowboys have had confirmed meetings with.

Jordan Addison, USC

Addison spent his first two college seasons as a Pitt Panther. He led the nation in receiving touchdowns as a sophomore in 2021 and won the Biletnikoff Award before transferring to USC. As an 11-game starter for the Trojans (and wearing Carson Palmer’s unretired No. 3 jersey), he had a down year but still caught 59 balls for 875 yards and scored eight times.

He’s projected to be one of the top wide receivers in this year’s draft class by nearly every major outlet and will likely be a first-round pick.

Zay Flowers, Boston College

Boston College’s all-time leader in career receptions, career receiving yards, and career receiving touchdowns is electric when he gets into space, but his 5-foot-10-inch, 172-pound size could be a concern for some teams. He logged 78 catches for 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games in 2022.

TCU QB Max Duggan would love to join Dallas Cowboys, compares his play to Jalen Hurts - Clarence E. Hill Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram

If Cooper Rush signs elsewhere, Dallas could draft a hometown hero as their backup.

Duggan, who is expected to be a mid-to-late round pick, has talked to a number of teams including the Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.

He will be happy to continue his career anywhere, just as long as he gets live out his lifelong dream of playing quarterback in the NFL.

But he acknowledged it would be special to be drafted by the Cowboys and learn from quarterback Dak Prescott.

“Yeah, it’d be really exciting to be able to go learn obviously in Dallas and with Coach McCarthy and you know learn under Dak and learn how to be a pro and everything he’s done to be successful,” Duggan said. “So you know it’d be really special. It would special to stay home in the Fort Worth area and be part of the Cowboys franchise.”

Duggan had an informal interview with the Cowboys and has yet to sit down formally with coach Mike McCarthy. But he will likely take a visit to the team’s headquarters before the NFL Draft as part of the local college visits.

He drew the attention of owner Jerry Jones at the Senior Bowl last month.

And he caught the eye of McCarthy during the season, putting him squarely on the Cowboys radar as a possible second or third day option as a future backup for Prescott.

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