Ezekiel Elliott may decide Tony Pollard's future with Cowboys

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys have a big decision to make with Tony Pollard this offseason. While Micah Parsons and other Cowboys want Pollard to get another chance in 2024 given he was slowed by his injury suffered last January for the first half of the season, the financially-sound decision would be to move on.

The Cowboys made a lofty investment in Pollard last year. A long-term extension following his devastating injury was never in the cards, but they ultimately did right by the 2022 Pro Bowler by hitting him with the franchise tag.

It gave Pollard a fully guaranteed $10.09 million salary and afforded Dallas the luxury of moving on after the 2023 season. There's a world in which Pollard returns on an affordable one-year deal, but most of Cowboys Nation is set on drafting a running back and signing a veteran (on the cheap) in free agency.

What if we told you that Ezekiel Elliott might decide Pollard's future, though? It sounds crazy, but Elliott carries a $6.04 million dead cap charge next season, according to Over The Cap.

Ezekiel Elliott may decided Tony Pollard's future with the Cowboys

There are technically other choices at play for the Cowboys, but financially speaking it would make little sense for the front office to bring Pollard back. He's not entirely to blame for the struggles of the run game. As we noted, he was clearly slowed by his ankle surgery early in the campaign.

Over the final seven games, Pollard ranked prominently among RBs in terms of yards after contact and missed tackles forced, per PFF. Despite the late-season surge, Pollard only had one game with over 100 rushing yards all year and four games in which he averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry. He also had 11 games with less than 60 rushing yards.

That isn't to say Pollard isn't a starting-caliber back. Everyone recognizes his talent, but if the Cowboys are going to be a pass-heavy offense and the offensive line isn't going to be world-beaters in the run game, what sense does it make to re-sign Pollard?

Spotrac lists his market value at $6.5 million per year, so we could be talking about the running back position once again consuming over $10 million of the Cowboys' salary cap next season when you account for Elliott's dead cap hit.

The Chiefs, Rams, Buccaneers and Patriots -- the last four Super Bowl champs -- all committed minimal resources to their running backs. With the Cowboys still living to regret Zeke's contract, it seems increasingly likely that Pollard won't be back with America's Team in 2024.

Pollard or not, Cowboys fans can get up to $1,000 for backing their team on DraftKings! Just sign up through our exclusive link and bet $10 or more on your first wager. If your bet loses, DraftKings will award you a bonus equalling the amount you wagered (up to $1,000).

More Cowboys news and analysis: