Tony Pollard is staying in Dallas, for now.
The Cowboys reportedly will use the franchise tag on the 25-year-old running back, locking him in for next season at $10.09 million. ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the news.
The team can now negotiate a long-term deal with Pollard through mid-July without the threat of him leaving in free agency. If no deal is reached by the extension deadline, Pollard will play on a one-year, $10.09 million deal before doing the process all over again next offseason.
After Pollard’s breakout 2022 season, the Cowboys couldn’t risk letting him hit the open market. In 16 games last season, Pollard reached career-highs in rushing attempts (193), rushing yards (1,007), rushing touchdowns (9), receiving yards (371) and receiving touchdowns (3).
Ezekiel Elliott is still on the Cowboys’ roster, but he can be released to clear nearly $5 million in cap space. They could approach Elliott about a restructured contract before cutting him.
Dallas needs to clear over $15 million to get under the cap and still has other key pending free agents in Dalton Schultz, Noah Brown, Connor McGovern, Leighton Vander Esch, Anthony Brown and Dante Fowler. Schultz received the franchise tag last offseason, but teams can only use it on one player per year.
Free agency begins next week, with the legal tampering period opening on March 13. Players can officially sign deals with other teams on March 15 at the start of the new league year.