Cowboys Urged to Bring Back Tony Pollard with Major Pay Cut

While some have projected the Dallas Cowboys to move on from Tony Pollard, a new angle says that the running back could stick around. Pollard was a rising star coming into 2023, but a disappointing season on the franchise tag has shifted perception.

But as the free agency window approaches, ESPN reporter Bill Barnwell believes that Pollard could be re-signed for half of what he was paid in 2023. Barnwell projects a deal worth $4-6 million per year for Pollard, which is far more affordable.

Cowboys Urged to Bring Back Tony Pollard with Major Pay Cut

“Pollard is just 26 and should be fully recovered from his injury,” Barnwell wrote on February 29. “But it’s going to be tough for teams to project him into excelling as a primary back in 2024.”

For Blogging the Boys’ RJ Ochoa, Barnwell’s projected number should entice the Cowboys. He also makes the point that Pollard was at his best as part of a two-back system.

“For conversation’s sake we will land in the middle and say that Pollard could be had (hypothetically of course) for $5M per year. This is not big-time money. This is well worth doing,” Ochoa wrote on March 2. “The proper approach for the Cowboys (and anyone, really) is a committee of sorts at the running back position. Pairing a moderately-priced Pollard with a rookie draft pick could really revitalize the running back room for the team.”

Pollard Regresses in 2023
It’s rare for a 1000-yard season to be called “regression” but a closer look at the numbers tells the story. Pollard was still decent, but was far less efficient in 2023.

According to Pro Football Reference, Pollard totaled 1005 rushing yards on 252 carries. Considering he totaled 1007 yards in 2022 on 59 less carries says a lot, as his average dropped from 5.2 yards per rush to 4.0 yards.

He also was less explosive in the receiving game. He set a career-high mark for receptions with 55 catches, but his 311 receiving yards was his lowest total since 2020. And after 12 total touchdowns in 2022, Pollard put up just 6 in 2023.

A factor to consider is how the team leaned into QB Dak Prescott, who finished as a runner-up for MVP. But the fact of the matter is that Pollard was given a solo role and it wasn’t nearly as effective as the two-back system.

Cowboys Figuring Out Salary Cap
With the news that longtime tackle Tyron Smith won’t be returning for 2024, the concerns over the salary cap are slightly eased. But Dallas still has to find answers and space for extensions and new signings.

Pollard feels like a secondary priority as things stand. Dallas is $4 million over the salary cap according to Spotrac. Before anything else, the Cowboys have to adjust that and set up enough space to sign draft picks.

But if Pollard is actually available for around $5 million in 2024, the Cowboys should be able to make it work. Bringing back a veteran presence is a plus, and Dallas can cheaply get a No. 2 RB in the draft.

Compared to how the Cowboys have spent on RBs in recent years, it’s a nice transition. After the Ezekiel Elliott era and the Pollard solo experiment, Dallas needs to be cost-effective.

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