The Dallas Cowboys are keeping running back Tony Pollard.
The team reportedly placed the franchise tag on him Monday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Pollard will make a fully guaranteed $10.09 million if he plays on the tag, but the team also has until July 15 to negotiate a long-term extension. This was always the expectation, though, if a contract couldn't be agreed to before Tuesday's deadline.
The fourth-year running back posted his best season in 2022. Pollard rushed for 1,007 yards and 9 touchdowns for a healthy 5.2 yards-per-carry average. He also caught 39 receptions for 371 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Pollard's future looked bright until he broke his fibula in the Cowboys' playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers in January. But now, at the very least, Pollard will have some financial security as he recovers from his injury. Early reports indicate Pollard should be ready by training camp after he underwent surgery soon after the injury occurred.
Cowboys spending a lot on RB
If Pollard and fellow running back Ezekiel Elliott both play on their current contracts, the Cowboys will be spending almost $27 million at the position. That, plus the $870,000 on third-stringer Malik Davis, would set the NFL record for more money spent on the running back position in NFL history, per Warren Sharp (the next-highest are the Tennessee Titans with $19.29 million invested in their running backs). The Cowboys also led the league in 2022 with $19.78 million going to running backs, per Spotrac.
Now, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy did say he wanted to run the ball more, but that's still a lot of money to allocate to a notoriously overvalued position.
More than likely, though, Elliott will either be released, traded or have his massive contract restructured. He already reportedly said he'd be willing to take a pay cut to stay in Dallas. But as it stands now, he'll earn $10.9 million in base salary with a prorated roster bonus that will push his 2023 cap number to $16.72 million. If the Cowboys release or trade him before June 1, the team will save $4.86 million but incur an $11.86 million dead cap hit. A post-June 1 designation effectively flips those numbers.