The deadline for the Cowboys to sign a long-term extension to franchise tagged running back Tony Pollard is quickly approaching on July 17, as little buzz has surfaced about if the fourth-year Memphis product will get his big payday before the deadline.
With the deadline approaching, here is the case for both the Cowboys giving him a long-term deal and for the club keeping him on the franchise tag in 2023.
Deal: With Ezekiel Elliott now out of the equation, signing Tony Pollard long-term would secure the Cowboys' main option in the backfield for the future coming off of a 2022 season where he proved to be one of the top big play weapons in the entire NFL.
A deal would show the Cowboys' investment – both literally and figuratively – into Pollard's role in the offense for the foreseeable future. However, at 26 years old, any potential deal would probably only be limited to three years with the trend of running backs phasing out before age 30 becoming more prevalent.
In addition, a potential long-term deal would affect the potential contract extension numbers of a handful of other Cowboys including Trevon Diggs, CeeDee Lamb, Terence Steele, Dak Prescott and others. How much of the pot can you realistically hand to Pollard without a full season as RB1 under his belt?
No Deal: In my opinion, the more realistic and reasonable option for both sides is to not sign the long-term extension. For the Cowboys, evaluating Pollard in 2023 for the future will be important given his return from a major leg injury suffered in January and his first full season as the starter.
If Pollard can show his same flash and twitch that he showed before the leg injury while also improving in areas such as pass protection and short yardage situations, then it would make perfect sense to ink him long-term next offseason. But if there are signs of decline after the injury and no real improvement despite more opportunities in the backfield, then the Cowboys would much rather not be tied to him long-term.
For Pollard, it's an opportunity to not only secure a long-term deal, but also to consistently up his price as the season goes on. If he can run it back as a Pro Bowler while also improving statistically in every category to cement himself as one of the top running backs in the league, then his price tag will be much higher next offseason than it would be ahead of July 17.
Prediction: No Deal
It just makes too much sense for both sides.
There has been franchise tag drama in the past around the league and in Dallas, but don't expect Pollard to be next in that line. His $10 million one-year deal will triple his career earnings while also giving him an opportunity to earn a whole lot more with a solid 2023 season.