What is the right price on a Tony Pollard contract?
Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard is staying at The Star for at least one more season, the Pro Bowl running back having signed his franchise tag this spring. But now come more steps and more signals ... with the clock ticking as it regards Pollard staying in Dallas long-term.
Surely Pollard’s additional desire is a long-term contract with Dallas. And the Cowboys are not in the business of letting Pro Bowl talent walk away. But NFL teams have until July 17 to sign tagged players to long-term deals. So while we know that the two sides have “touched base’’ - negotiations at least of a sort - what we’re about to find out amounts to three things...
1 - What do the Cowboys, who lived the experience of failing to recognize “the devaluation of the running back’’ with their massive Ezekiel Elliott contract - think of paying backs now?
2- What do the Cowboys think of their stable of Pollard backups? If Malik Davis or Ronald Jones or Rico Dowdle or Deuce Vaughn or Hunter Luepke can be central to Dallas’ 2024-and-beyond future at running back - each of them doing it at literally one-tenth the cost of Pollard - why not let Pollard be one-and-done and then turn the page?
3 - While there is no denying Pollard’s talent, how much does he want to “bet on himself’’? If Dallas will not fork out the salary that Pollard is after in the coming days, does he grab whatever deal is on the table (especially assuming the guaranteed money is alluring) or does he excitedly hit the market next spring believing that he’s a $10 million APY back?
Should the franchise roll the dice on an extension before the price tag goes up?
Predicting the future in the NFL is never an easy task. Teams have strategies they don’t always share, players have ambitions they don’t make public, coaches have biases, competition is unpredictable and outside factors are always in play.
For the most part, the Cowboys seem to have a good handle on the various situations across the roster. They sound intent on re-signing top players like Dak Prescott, Trevon Diggs, CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons. The exact terms are unknown, but most will agree Dallas will get deals done with them, one way or the other.
Terence Steele’s future isn’t quite so clear.
The Cowboys right tackle was having a career season in 2022 until an ACL injury brought it to a sudden halt. His absence from the lineup had enormous effects on the Dallas running game and proved Steele’s value almost immediately.
Steele, a restricted free agent this past March, was given a second-round tender to stay in Dallas for the 2023 season. Recovering from a significant knee injury and scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in 2024, Steele’s uncertain future looms large.
Rookie hype train for two too high right now?
Every team has players that step up in a season. They also have a few that don’t live up to the expectations fans and coaches have at the beginning of the season for them.
Here’s a look at three players who could fall short of expectations in Dallas this season.
OT Tyron Smith
Tyron Smith has been a pillar of the Cowboys offense for a long time but Father Time comes for everyone and he’s undefeated.
For Smith, signs of aging and decline have been coming for a few years. Smith has played in just 17 regular season games over the last three years due to various injuries.
TE Luke Schoonmaker
Being a second-round draft pick comes with a certain set of expectations. While first-round picks are generally expected to be Day 1 starters, Round 2 picks are expected to contribute early and eventually work their way into a starting role.
That’s especially true when a second-round pick plays a position with an unsettled depth chart.
RB Deuce Vaughn
It’s easy to fall in love with Deuce Vaughn as a player. He was fun to watch at Kansas State and who doesn’t want to see a 5’5”, 179-pound guy make an impact in the league?
It’s easy to take a look at Vaughn’s film, see his diminutive stature and that K-State jersey and immediately think of Darren Sproles.
This free agent tight end could bring some veteran leadership to the unit - Jermaine Arvie, Inside The Star
A seasoned professional at the position would be a welcomed sight to an otherwise inexperienced group as currently assembled.
Marcedes Lewis Will bring A skillset to Dallas
You can argue that he would be a progress-stopper.
Why would you bring in a guy for one year to take snaps away from the young guns?
It’s simple. There is too much of an unknown with the tight ends on the roster.
His ability to still block cannot be denied
Last year with Green Bay, Lewis grabbed 256 snaps, and Pro Football Focus graded him a 66.6 in run blocking.
For someone at his age, that is outstanding.
Could you envision a 6’6″ 270lb player who isn’t the athlete he once was but is still better than most reserve linemen coming downhill to block?
I can see it. The personnel move would be a culture signing and should point Dallas in the right direction.
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