Predicting Cowboys next 3 moves after franchise tagging Tony Pollard
By Jerry Trotta
It’s always felt like the Dallas Cowboys were going to franchise tag Tony Pollard. For one, Dallas loves keeping around homegrown talents, and Pollard was the offense’s most explosive playmaker in 2022 not named CeeDee Lamb.
NFL Network reported over the weekend that the Cowboys will tag Pollard if the two sides don’t reach an agreement on a long-term deal before Tuesday’s deadline. That’s exactly what happened, as Pollard joins a long list of Cowboys to have received the franchise tag in the last several years, per ESPN.
DeMarcus Lawrence was famously tagged in 2018 and 2019 before inking a long-term extension, while Dak Prescott played on the tag in 2020 and was set to play on it again in 2021 before he signed his own deal.
Last year, Dallas tagged Dalton Schultz after a breakout 2021 when he logged 800 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
While fans should celebrate the fact Pollard will be back for another season, the front office can’t afford to take its foot off the gas. Free agency starts next week, and fans should expect plenty of moves in the next several days.
Predicting Cowboys next 3 moves after Tony Pollard franchise tag
3. Cut Ezekiel Elliott
If we’re being honest, cutting Elliott would’ve been a legitimate conversation after last season. The Cowboys likely never would’ve considered it, and the dead money that would follow such a move made it impossible, but Elliott’s seismic decline in 2022 didn’t come out of nowhere.
Elliott’s yards per game output has declined each season since his rookie year. His efficiency has taken a nosedive as well. He hasn’t averaged more than 4.2 yards per attempt since 2019 (the last time he made a Pro Bowl), and failed to break the 4.0 mark this past campaign.
While that can be attributed to poor blocking and injuries to the offensive line, Pollard averaged 5.2 YPC behind the same OL this season. This came after he tallied 5.5 (!) yards per attempt last season, and 5.3 YPC as a rookie in 2019.
Even at a reduced salary, there’s little sense in bringing Zeke back. The team would save $10.9 million on the cap by designating him as a post-June 1 cut. With Pollard back and poised to take the lion’s share of the carries, Dallas needs to cut Zeke loose and draft a running back to reset the money at the position.
This front office has disappointed before. That’s an understatement. But something tell us they’ve seen the light with Elliott.