Recently, there was some news regarding Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard being open to an extension with the team. Pollard has been productive thus far in his career with the team, and he eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the first time in his career in 2022 while averaging over five yards per carry. On the surface, re-signing would make sense for both sides. The Cowboys needed more play-making options for much of last year, and given the rough market for running backs, a long-term contract is a gift at this point. That’s the key theme. Assurances.
Pollard, and more importantly, the team, needs assurances. The Cowboys don’t have any proven talent behind Pollard if he were to get injured again. So while the Pollard contract will be a talking point until next month’s deadline to come to terms on a contract, the Cowboys must focus on covering their bases behind Pollard this season. The best way they can do that is to pick up a veteran just in case, like Leonard Fournette.
Adding Fournette to the roster makes a ton of sense. Fournette has a reputation around the NFL for being a versatile option out of the backfield who can be a formidable downhill runner and has good hands in the passing game. Though he may not precisely fit the type of runner wanted in McCarthy’s new offense, his traits are helpful in spurts. Currently, the Cowboys don’t have a runner they can rely on in short yardage and near the goal line. At six feet and 228lbs., Fournette should have no problem filling in as the goal line runner for a club that struggled in that area when Ezekiel Elliott was not on the field in goal-to-go situations. Additionally, Fournette still has just enough speed to break away from defenses occasionally.
The best part of this potential pairing is that it mutually benefits the team and Fournette. Since departing from Jacksonville, Fournette has worked as part of a backfield tandem in Tampa Bay and isn’t as worn down as some would think. he has only surpassed the 200-carry threshold twice in his career and still has tread left on the tire. Considering how cool Fournette’s market has been, the cost should be a reasonable discount. The former top pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars is only 28 years old, with much to offer.
Think of picking up Fournette as the same type of safety policy as when the team had Alfred Morris. When signed, Morris was a terrific runner that wasn’t what he used to be but was sufficient as part of an ensemble to spell the lead runner. When Elliott was absent in 2017 for an extended period, Morris handled the starting duties and did very well in Elliott’s stead. Should something happen to Pollard, there’s no reason to believe Fournette couldn’t have some success if needed.
Simply speculating on cost, Fournette shouldn’t be very expensive. Since being released, there hasn’t been any significant news of him latching on with another club. Ideally, you’d think he would sign a contract for one year, gambling on himself to hit the market if he plays a pivotal role this year. However, like Morris and several other veterans, the Cowboys likely would offer Fournette a two-year contract in this scenario, something like two years, $6.75M, with incentives to earn more.