Cowboys Rumors: Plan for Tony Pollard, Ezekiel Elliott is worst-case scenario

Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

Much like appointing Brian Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator after Kellen Moore was surprisingly let go, Dallas Cowboys fans believe they have a strong pulse on the team’s plans for the running back position.

With Tony Pollard headed for unrestricted free agency, and coming off high-ankle surgery, and Ezekiel Elliott having zero guaranteed money left on his contract after he performed like a mid-tier (at best) running back in 2022, the Cowboys face tough decisions with their two-headed backfield monster.

Ideally, Dallas pulls the plug on Elliott and saves $10.9 million in salary cap space in the process. Zeke has made $70 million in his career until this point, so nobody should feel sorry if the Cowboys decide to make him a cap casualty.

Pollard, on the other hand, is a much murkier situation to navigate. Most fans want him back — Jerry Jones included — but at the right price.

The Cowboys still have plenty of time to mull this over, but the latest buzz from Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline is quite literally the nightmare scenario fans envisioned once Dallas’ season ended at the hands of the 49ers.

Per Pauline, the Cowboys plan to restructure Elliott’s contract, while the expectation is Pollard will be given the franchise tag.

Cowboys reportedly plan to restructure Ezekiel Elliott’s contract, franchise tag Tony Pollard

Franchise-tagging Pollard really isn’t a doomsday scenario. However, the $10.09 million price for tagged running backs is a steep price to pay when you consider some of the top free agent RBs — Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and David Montgomery — could struggle to crack $10 million annually on the open market.

Might it behoove the Cowboys to let Pollard, fresh off suffering a fractured left fibula and high-ankle sprain, test the open market? If teams are reluctant to give a running back coming off a major injury a lucrative contract, might Pollard come crawling back to Dallas at a discount relative to $10.09 million?

Perhaps a two-year, $15.5 million deal would appease both parties. That way, the Cowboys save money, and keep their most explosive offensive weapon sans CeeDee Lamb.

But we’re not going to throw a fit if Pollard is tagged.

What we will throw a temper tantrum over, though, is keeping Elliott. Even on a reworked contract, there’s little sense in giving this version of Elliott, who averaged 2.74 yards after contact in 2022, 8-10 carries per game (maybe more!) that could be going to Pollard or a rookie draft pick.

Of course, a lot can happen between now and the new league year. Further, we wouldn’t take Pauline’s insight as gospel.

Though a noted reporter, he isn’t Adam Schefter or Ian Rapoport … or one of the Cowboys’ esteemed reporters; your Michael Gehlken’s, Nick Eatman’s, Patrik Walker’s, and Todd Archer’s of the world, for that matter.

At the same time, the Cowboys are incredibly easy to read, and this is the EXACT blueprint most fans predicted once the season ended.

Let’s hope this is just smoke and mirrors, especially in Zeke’s case.