Stunning Tony Pollard update could give Cowboys dream backfield in 2024

Nov 23, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) runs past
Nov 23, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) runs past / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It's no surprise, but the Dallas Cowboys are not using the franchise tag on a player this offseason. Tony Pollard was the most realistic tag candidate, but the Cowboys were never going to pay a premium to keep Pollard after he underwhelmed as the lead running back this past season.

This news doesn't rule out Pollard to return to Dallas, however. Depending on his market, the Cowboys could bring Pollard back on a team-friendly deal. Many fans are ready to move on from Pollard altogether, but there'd be little harm in re-signing him so long as the price is right.

If the latest rumblings are true, Pollard might find his way back to the Cowboys in free agency. In a recent article, ESPN's Bill Barnwell ranked the best available running backs and linebackers and offered contract projections for each player.

Barnwell separated the positions into tiers. Pollard slipped to tier four of RBs, which belongs to "borderline starters/high-end backups." The projected annual salary for these players, per Barnwell? Between $4-6 million.

Cowboys could form dream backfield in 2024 after stunning Tony Pollard update

If Pollard is available for $4-6 million, the Cowboys should absolutely re-sign him. A one-year deal would be the ideal scenario, but a two-year contract with a potential easy out in 2025 would also be extremely enticing.

While Pollard disappointed in 2023, he's finally fully recovered from a fractured fibula and high-ankle sprain suffered last January. The explosion and elusiveness that propelled him to the Pro Bowl in 2022 returned in the second half of the season. He's still a dynamic playmaker and pairing him with a power back would give the Cowboys a dream backfield for next season.

Ideally, that power back will arrive via the 2024 NFL Draft. Barnwell noted in his article that Pollard turned 17 carries inside the five into just three touchdowns. At 6-foot-2 and 238 pounds, Wisconsin's Braelon Allen would be a life-changer for Dallas in short-yardage work and the perfect complement to Pollard.

A projected third-round pick, Allen averaged 3.77 yards after contact per carry this season and forced 49 missed tackles, per PFF.

Just 20 years old (!), Allen makes his money churning out yards in the trenches and will bounce off tacklers if they tackle him above the waist. He didn't run the 40-yard dash at the Combine, but his long speed isn't an issue like it is for other prospects and he showed off his nimble feet during the off-tackle recognition drill as he placed among the fastest running backs.

Allen would absolutely be worth a third-round pick. The Cowboys gambled last year by not drafting a RB in round three as virtually all of the best prospects came off the board shortly thereafter. If Allen is sitting there at No. 87 overall and Dallas has already re-signed Pollard, they should run the card to the podium.

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