The Dallas Cowboys entered the 2023 off-season with the running back position completely in flux. Not only was Ezekiel Elliott’s contract finally escapable, but Tony Pollard was set to become an unrestricted free agent.
There was a possibility both of the Dallas Cowboys top two runners would be wearing a different uniform in 2023. That possibility appears to have been put to bed with recent news,
The Dallas Cowboys are expected to use the franchise tag on Tony Pollard, ensuring 2022 was not his last season in Dallas.
At a value of roughly $10 million, franchising a running back is a fairly affordable action these days. In a day an age where most are hesitant to guarantee money, a short term splurge seems like the better alternative for Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys are currently reaping the consequences of needlessly committing long-term to their previous bell-cow runner. Ezekiel Elliott has seen a steady decline in production and efficiency since he signed his mammoth extension. Up until now, it more cost-prohibitive to cut him than to keep him. Operative words being, “until now.”
Earlier in the off-season, Dallas cut ties with Zeke’s long-time position coach, Skip Pete. That move, combined with the commitment to TP could indicate a divorce between Elliott and the only NFL team he’s ever played for.
No word on whether a long-term deal is being discussed between TP and the Cowboys brass. Given the timing of this news, it appears the franchise option is the most optimal and some lessons may have been learned with Elliot.
This also bodes well for those who are apprehensive about drafting a running back with a top pick in the upcoming draft. RB is a position players can transition to quite quickly and doesn’t require grooming or developmental seasons. If the Dallas Cowboys are committed to Pollard for the 2023 season, it makes little sense using a first or second round running back this year.
This is an especially deep draft at running back so many great options will be found on Day 3. Given the Cowboys many needs at other positions, top-100 picks would best be used elsewhere.
Pollard played a key part in the Dallas Cowboys offensive success in 2022. He was one of the few playmakers Dallas had last season and his absence against San Francisco was truly felt. Keeping him one more year could be the smart move as long as tough decisions are made with Zeke and early draft investment isn’t made in the upcoming draft.