The Dallas Cowboys have used their franchise tag on running back Tony Pollard per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The one year tender is worth $10.091 million for 2023 and would be fully guaranteed once signed by Pollard.
Pollard is coming off a career year in which he ran for just over 1,000 yards and added another 371 yards as a receiver while scoring 12 touchdowns for the Cowboys. He added a dynamic element to the offense that was lacking when he was not on the field for the team. Pollard averaged 5.2 yards per carry compared to teammate’s Ezekiel Elliott’s 3.8 yards per carry.
The Cowboys now have over $27 million in cap charges set aside for running backs on the roster, $8 million more than the next closest team in the league. Elliott currently has a $16.702 million cap hit but would leave Dallas with $11.86 million in dead money if he was released. Dallas seems to like having the two back system with the two splitting time and keeping Pollard fresh, which most likely means that Dallas would look to bring Elliott’s salary down this year with a chance to earn it back in incentives or perhaps by also guaranteeing a small portion of salary in 2024 on a completely reworked contract. A $5 million reduction in salary would have the same cap impact as cutting him this year.
Technically, Pollard will remain a free agent until he signs the franchise tag, but no team in the NFL is going to give away two first round picks for a free agent running back. The $10.1 million salary is also a strong number for Pollard. That is $2 to $3 million above what some recent free agents earned at the position and would essentially be a bridge figure between those players and the 2021 contract signed by Aaron Jones while also coming close to matching what Jones earns this year on his recently renegotiated contract. More often than not these are tenders that are often signed sooner rather than later.
The Cowboys and Pollard would have until July 15th to come to a long term agreement on a contract. As a franchise player Pollard would likely look for a longer term deal that would be in line with contracts signed by Joe Mixon, Aaron Jones, Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb, and Dalvin Cook, all in the $11 to $13 million per year range.