The Dallas Cowboys surely expect to have running back Tony Pollard in the fold for the 2023 season, but if they want to have him for longer than that, they may need to wait a while to hammer out a new contract agreement. According to a report from ESPN, the Cowboys and Pollard are not expected to agree on a long-term deal before Monday's franchise-tag deadline.
If the deadline comes and goes without a long-term pact between the team and its new lead running back, Pollard will play out the 2023 season on the $10.1 million franchise tag he signed back in March, when the team originally used the tag on him.
In four seasons with Dallas after being selected in the fourth round out of Memphis back in 2019, Pollard has totaled 2,616 yards and seven touchdowns on 510 carries, adding 1,008 yards and five more scores on 121 receptions. Despite largely working behind incumbent running back Ezekiel Elliott, Pollard was clearly the more explosive and efficient player during the pair's time sharing the backfield.
In fact, among the 31 non-quarterbacks with at least 500 touches since he entered the league, Pollard's 5.74 yards per touch average ranks third behind only Christian McCaffrey (5.79) and Austin Ekeler (5.75). Pollard has also consistently ranked among the league's best tackle-breakers at the running back position, and has excelled at generating yards after contact. He's also one of just four full-time backs during that time to average at least 1.5 yards per route run. (Along with McCaffrey, Ekeler, and Alvin Kamara.)
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Still, Pollard is a running back, and that makes negotiating a potential long-term deal a difficult proposition, even if he looks to be one of the better backs in the game. Considering Dallas is coming out of the disastrous Elliott contract (a six-year, $90 million deal signed while Zeke was in Cabo San Lucas and Pollard was tearing up training camp as a rookie), it's not necessarily surprising that the team is not itching to hand out another big-money deal to a player at that position. (Pollard is also coming off a broken leg suffered during the Cowboys' Divisional Round loss to the 49ers.)
As a former fourth-round pick, the $10.1 million Pollard is set to make in 2023 is more than three times his career earnings to date, though, so he at least gets a nice payday even if it's not the long-term security he likely wants.