Cowboys next move should be obvious after Tony Pollard franchise tag

In today’s not-so-breaking news, the Dallas Cowboys have franchised Tony Pollard for 2023, an expected move that will send other packages.

The Dallas Cowboys have been saying this for weeks: Tony Pollard will play under the franchise’s tag for the 2023 season.

Pollard was officially awarded the franchise on Monday and will remain in Dallas, worth $10.1 million.

Having secured their breakout running back for at least the next season, the Cowboys’ second move stared them straight in the face: They released running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott’s cap is currently $16.7 million in 2023, and even if Dallas performs a max restructuring of Elliott’s contract, it will still count nearly $10 million against the cap. Are the Cowboys really going to raise $20 million for a running back duo? Jerry Jones might want to find a way to make it work, but sometimes the most obvious answer is the right one.

Dallas will save a chunk of the money (about $10 million) by hiring Elliott as the cut after June 1 or potentially trading him to someone willing.

The Cowboys prioritize Tony Pollard over Zeke and Dalton Schultz

Elliott’s six-year, $90 million extension that he signed back in 2019 hasn’t aged well, and the Cowboys can’t justify sticking with this expensive player in one of the most affordable positions in football.

The duo formed a one-two punch on the ground in Dallas last season, yet Pollard jumped ahead as the more efficient ball carrier with Elliott falling far behind, recording a career-low 3.8 yards per carry.

Pollard suffered a serious injury in an NFC Divisional playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers, and if he doesn’t make a successful recovery, the Cowboys may regret wasting a load of cash and tag on him.

Then again, Dallas probably wasn’t planning on expanding Pollard after learning his lesson from overinvesting in Elliott four years ago. The franchise tag was the most logical way for the Cowboys to keep a highly skilled young player, and the team will just have to come to terms with Elliott’s impending exit.

As for Dalton Schultz, who was awarded the franchise tag last year, the Cowboys tight end will hit free agency later in the season and will have a group of suitors out the door. In Schultz’s absence, 2022 fourth baseman Jake Ferguson will take over the tight end role.

Tagging Pollard in 2023 appears to have been the plan all along, and now Dallas needs to face the consequences of his actions. Every franchise is a gamble in itself, and while losing star players like Elliott and Schultz would hurt, there’s no logical way around it. Accept the losses and move on.

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