The Dallas Cowboys enter the 2023 off-season with a situation stemming at the running back position with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.
The Cowboys can finally unload some of Elliott's contract, and he has said he will take a pay cut to stay with Dallas, but other rumors have started to swirl that the Cowboys are expected to use the franchise tag on Pollard.
Tagging Pollard would be at a value of roughly $10 million. No word has been announced if a longer deal is being worked on between the two. So the franchise tag is the best way to go.
Elliott is scheduled to make $16.7 million in 2023. Since he signed a six-year, $90 million deal back in 2019, Elliott's production has fallen off. Dallas could also cut him and pay $11.8 million in dead money. (It won't happen).
The last thing I want to see this team do in any round of this year's NFL draft is taking a running back. If they can hold onto Pollard and let Zeke take a pay cut, this team can use the draft to address the needs that allow them to try and make one more run at a title next season.
Pollard had a career-best 1,007 rushing yards, scored 12 touchdowns. He added nearly 400 more through the air. Nine of those touchdowns came on the ground, with another three receiving. It would take a lot of work to replace that type of production.
Even coming off an injury, Pollard is one of the most explosive offensive weapons the Cowboys have on that side of the ball. It would be a massive letdown if they let him walk… Or would it?
Paying running backs don't seem to matter anymore. Let me be clear: I want to retain Pollard, but don't want to pay him what he will be valued at.
I've been a big fan of Tony Pollard for his entire career.
I wouldn't pay him what he's expected to make. https://t.co/hdsmUgXF5X
Let's look at a team currently in the Super Bowl.
The Kansas City Chiefs currently have a 7th-round pick and a 3rd-round pick as their top two backs on the depth chart. Yes, they have Patrick Mahomes, but you still don't need to pay a running back a lot of money. It can be done.
If Pollard plays on the tag and does not have repeat success like this year, then you let him walk. The Cowboys are nearing the end of their window with the current roster. We know Jerry Jones is all talk, therefore I'm sure he will probably use some of this extra money on a guy who isn't worth it.
We saw how the playoff game changed dramatically after Pollard got injured. It was force the ball to CeeDee Lamb and hope it works. Kellen Moore is gone. Mike McCarthy will be calling the plays.
One positive thing about the hiring of Brain Schottenheimer is that even though he won't be calling plays, he knows how to get the best out of his running backs.
When he called plays with the Seattle Seahawks, they had the league's top rushing offense in 2018. Quarterback Russell Wilson even posted a career-high 110.9 passer rating.
I would like to see how he can work with the Cowboys' backfield and others.
First let's see if Pollard will play on the tag.