Tony Pollard makes stance on potential Cowboys extension crystal clear

Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) celebrates
Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) celebrates / Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys have handed the keys of the backfield to Tony Pollard. It's been overdue for arguably two seasons, but the transition will become official in 2023 after Pollard rushed for over 1,000 yards last season for the first time in his career and the team released longtime starter Ezekiel Elliott.

Some fans worried that Pollard's playoff injury would complicate his Cowboys future. Others speculated if that could steer him towards a potential extension.

When push came to shove, Dallas gave Pollard the franchise tag, which locks the RB in to a $10.1 million salary for next season.

As of this writing, Pollard is still the only tagged running back who has already signed his tag. That doesn't rule out both sides reaching a long-term extension before training camp, however, and the latest buzz suggest there's interest from both sides to reach an agreement.

Tony Pollard, Cowboys reportedly want long-term contract extension

Here's what ESPN insider Jeremy Fowler said on SportsCenter over the weekend:

""He's in a situation, I'm told, where he's looking at this as a win-win because he signed his franchise tag tender at the $10.1 million clip. He's injured, coming off ankle surgery, so he's got that security regardless. But if the Cowboys want to step up and try to do a long-term deal he's certainly open to that. Nothing moving on that yet but there's a lot of time before that July 17 deadline. Certainly, both sides are expected to reconvene and talk about a potential long-term deal. The Cowboys would love to get his cap hit down a little bit so they could sign some other players."

It's pretty obvious why Dallas should want to extend Pollard. While the league has gravitated toward not paying RBs, Pollard wouldn't command top-of-the-market money. A two or three-year deal worth $8-10 million annually with front-loaded guarantees would help the Cowboys lower Pollard's $10.1 million cap hit while giving them an easy out near the end of the contract.

The Cowboys currently have $20.45 million in cap space -- the seventh-most of any team, per Over The Cap -- so we're not sure we agree that Pollard's cap hit is preventing them from signing other players, as Fowler implied.

At the end of the day, Pollard is too important to the offense to risk losing him after one year of playing on the franchise tag.

Though he'll turn 27 next April, 2022 marked the first season he logged more than 130 carries, so he doesn't have the same wear and tear as most fifth-year backs. He should have at least two or three more Pro Bowl-level seasons in the tank, if not more, and there's no obvious successor waiting in the wings.

Here's hoping a deal is signed before the July 17 deadline.

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