Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
If it means keeping Tony Pollard, the Dallas Cowboys might be willing to invest big money in their backfield for the 2023 NFL season.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that the Cowboys would consider applying the franchise tag to Pollard to prevent him from leaving in free agency.
The franchise tag would set Pollard’s salary at a projected $10.1 million for next year.
Dallas already has Ezekiel Elliott signed for $16.7 million, so including both would be an expensive endeavor.
Cutting Elliott could be an option when the time comes.
Releasing or trading him before June 1 would hit the cap by $11.9 million, but would save $4.9 million. Identifying it as a post-June 1 cut would spread your dead money hit between 2023 ($5.8 million) and 2024 ($6 million) and save $10.9 million.
Should they both return to Dallas, it could create a tricky dynamic.
While he could once boast of being the best running back in the NFL, Elliott may not be the best running back on his own team anymore. The 2016 All-Pro rushed for 876 yards and 12 touchdowns averaging 3.8 yards per carry in 15 games during the regular season.
Meanwhile, Pollard led the Cowboys in rushing yards (1,007) and averaged more than a full yard per carry (5.2) than Elliott en route to his first Pro Bowl appearance.
As well as Pollard and Elliott have been together, the Cowboys may have to choose one or the other.
For spotracthe team is already spending the fifth-most money ($17.6 million) at running back for 2023. Tagging Pollard would send Dallas to No. 1 on that list, well ahead of the Green Bay Packers ($23 ,4 millions).
The Cowboys can avoid that scenario by signing Pollard to a multiyear deal paying him a lower salary. But the 25-year-old may not be as interested in leaving money on the table, as his buying power could be at its peak this offseason.
If the franchise tag is the result for Pollard, then it could force Dallas to make some tough salary cap decisions.