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The Tony Pollard era has begun, but he still needs help

We've put the Front Office, the Coaches, and the under the microscope so far. Today we take a few steps further into the Cowboys' backfield.

The running backs take stage, led by , and likely an unpopular conclusion.


There. I said it. Ezekiel Elliott has been a great for the .

Has been.

If the 2022 season proved anything it showed that Elliott's days as the RB1 are in his rearview mirror. He doesn't have a next gear anymore to get him through a hole and downfield.

Ezekiel Elliott is as “Back” as he is Going to Get
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) hurdles DeShon Elliott during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

His best asset now is he can pound on the middle of the while Tony Pollard's speed carves them up.

Basically, he's become a . With a 2023 cap hit, per Spotrac, of just under $17 million he's an expensive fullback.

Reportedly, Elliott is willing to take a pay cut to stay in Dallas.

Would he be willing to take a cut big enough to make it worth keeping him? Especially if those funds could be better spent in the other areas of need for the Cowboys?

The amateur in me says it is time to part ways with Elliott. A shame, considering he deserves a better sendoff than that last play against the 49ers in January.

He ranks third in all-time rushing yards for the Cowboys (8,262) behind (17,162) and Tony Dorsett (12,036).

Some day soon, his name will be up on the .

But the Cowboys have better options going forward than an aging back whose legs are clearly used up.


Pollard picked the right year to have a breakout season.

Despite only starting four games, he cracked the 1,000-yard rushing mark. He also proved to be a threat in the passing attack as well.

Nov 25, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) returns a kick off for a touchdown against the at . Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

As an unrestricted , Pollard is going to get paid in 2023, even with the high ankle he suffered against the 49ers. He's expected to be ready to go before opens.

You can also expect the Cowboys to use the on Pollard and try to work out a long-term contract later.

Another reason why Elliott may have played his last game as a Cowboy.

The long-term looks much better for Pollard, whose legs are much fresher. But, even with Zeke's departure, the Cowboys will need to address their backfield.

A strong will take pressure off .

How does Dallas accomplish this?


Can be the answer? Personally, I don't think so. But given he hasn't gotten many reps, it's a hard call to make.

The best answer is with the 26th pick of the .

Unless they somehow steal away from the Titans, like the Eagles did with A.J. Brown. I think the blocks that move, however.

#DALvsTEN: Derrick Henry a Reminder of What Could've Been for Cowboys
As good as Derrick Henry would look carrying the football while wearing a blue star on his helmet, can't expect that to happen any time soon.

So we're looking at the 26th pick and, according to more than one , Bijan Robinson from Texas.

As a disclaimer, I'm a huge fan of Robinson. I also think he would complement Pollard perfectly. The problem is that Robinson might not still be there at 26.

One mock draft has the Eagles grabbing Robinson if they lose Miles Sanders to .

Which means if the Cowboys want to address their running back room by grabbing Robinson, they'll need to consider trading up. The Cowboys don't exactly have that kind of in the draft.

If Bijan Robinson is gone by the time they pick, they'll need to wait until the second or third round. There they can choose from Roschon Johnson (Texas), Tank Bigsby (Auburn), Zach Charbonnet (UCLA), Kendre Miller (TCU), or a host of others in a deep class.

But, barring a or a free agent , the Cowboys must find Zeke's replacement before the opening kickoff of the 2023 season.

Otherwise we're looking at another year of Prescott trying to force the ball downfield through the air.

And we've all seen how poorly that movie ends, haven't we?

Richard Paolinelli
Richard Paolinelli
Richard has covered sports at all levels - from local, prep, college, and professional - since 1984. He has been a fan of the Dallas Cowboys since 1969. Since retiring as a full-time sports writer in 2013, he has written and published several novels, two dozen short stories and two sports non-fiction books.

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