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Offseason | 2023

Impact: How does Pollard's tag affect the future?


After signing to a franchise tag in March for a one-year, $10.1 million deal, running back Tony Pollard and the Dallas Cowboys have let the July 17 deadline pass to sign a long-term extension, meaning that the fourth-year Memphis product will play the 2023 season on the tag, keeping his future in Dallas up in the air.

This comes on the heels of a breakout 2022 campaign that saw Pollard notch his first Pro Bowl honor after rushing for 1,007 yards and combining for 12 total touchdowns. Despite the strong performance, Pollard suffered a fractured leg in the final game against San Francisco that has some questioning if he can return with the same flash this season.

For the Cowboys, evaluating Pollard in 2023 for the future will be important given his return from injury and his first full season in the spotlight as the starter with Ezekiel Elliott out of the equation.

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, whether that price ends up being paid by Dallas or another franchise next offseason.

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 have been had he signed before Monday. While that would make things complicated for contract negotiations across the board for the Cowboys, owner Jerry Jones has stated that the team has “big plans” for Pollard's future in Dallas.

Also playing a factor in a potential huge 2023 season from Pollard are the handful of other Cowboys waiting on contract extensions which includes Trevon Diggs, CeeDee Lamb, Dak Prescott, Terence Steele and more. The better Pollard plays and the higher his price tag raises, the smaller the pot becomes for the others set to earn contracts.

Featured behind Pollard in the running back room this season includes two-time Super Bowl champion Ronald Jones, second-year speed back Malik Davis, Rico Dowdle and sixth-round draft pick Deuce Vaughn. Without a cemented complimentary back to Pollard, pressure and opportunity will be waiting on his plate when he makes his full return to the field.

Pollard will become the sixth player in franchise history to play a season on the franchise tag, joining Flozell Adams (2002), Anthony Spencer (2012, 2013), DeMarcus Lawrence (2018), Dak Prescott (2020) and Dalton Schultz (2022). The Cowboys went on to sign Adams, Lawrence and Prescott to long-term extensions in each respective following offseason.

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