The off-season for the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL has started to pick up in the last few weeks. Stephen Jones and Mike McCarthy answered several questions this week in light of the NFL combine kicking off.
With the window for teams to use the franchise tag opening last week, Jones said the team would likely use it but did push back on telling us who.
Only one player can be tagged per off-season; the deadline is next Wednesday, March 8th.
The Cowboys have a nice chuck of expiring contracts and have options that the team could use the tag on if they wanted to. Tony Pollard seems like the prime candidate at the cost of $10.1 million, but it's not a lock.
“More than likely we'll use the franchise tag. Not necessarily on Tony, but (likely) we'll use it,” Jones said this week.
Moving parts in Cowboys RB room with hefty Ezekiel Elliott contract, Tony Pollard contract up.
Stephen Jones on Zeke: “He's making a lot of money, and he knows that.”
Also: “More than likely we'll use the franchise tag. Not necessarily on Tony, but (likely) we'll use it.”
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) February 28, 2023
The next few months will be interesting. The team needs to figure out what they are doing with the ridiculous contract of Ezekiel Elliott, and he needs to take a pay cut or be released. If they do indeed let him go, it will open the door for Pollard.
It would also open the door for the Cowboys to take a running back in this year's draft. Only two names stand out for me. Bijan Robinson and Tyjae Spears. This class is deep; I don't want them to take someone before round four.
If Pollard isn't tagged, though, the Cowboys have two others I would keep an eye on.
Dalton Schultz is the first. He is set to become a free agent this summer and played on the tag last season. If the Cowboys don't want to see Dak Prescott's favorite target go, they could place it on him again.
Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot are sitting pretty on rookie deals behind him, don't do it. This team can get the same type of production from two guys for cheaper. Schultz did show up in the playoffs, catching 12 passes for 122 yards and three touchdowns in two games. That still is not enough for me to use the tag on him.
The next is safety Donovan Wilson. He had a career year in 2022 and led the team in tackles. Jones has said keeping him, Malik Hooker, and Jayron Kearse is one of their biggest priorities this off-season. If they place the tag on him, it would be worth $14.5 million.
Someone on this team is going to be hit with the tag. It may come earlier, but we might have to wait a week to see who it will be.
If they don't place it on Pollard, I want them to use it on Wilson if they can't agree to a long-term deal. Using it on Schultz for a second straight year seems silly, and it would cost more to do so.
The Cowboys have a lot of decisions to make soon. For the entire off-season, the window is CLOSING; I will keep saying it. This team is one or two pieces away from winning the NFC.
Follow the leader Jones family. The Rams loaded up and won the Super Bowl two years ago, and the Eagles traded for A.J. Brown and won the NFC this year. Make it happen this off-season, or give us a reason to be excited.