Tony Pollard contract: Jerry Jones floats using franchise tag on Cowboys RB if no long-term deal reached

It’s not clear if the Cowboys can agree on a long-term contract for running back Tony Pollard, but they won’t let him leave this offseason.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Friday that Dallas plans to use its franchise tag for Pollard if the two sides can’t strike a deal by Tuesday’s deadline to keep him off the open market.

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In case there was any doubt, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Friday that Pollard “certainly … plays a big part” in the franchise’s plans.

The re-signing of Pollard before Tuesday’s deadline would allow the Cowboys to explore with the franchise tag on tight end Dalton Schultz, but there’s no indication a long-term deal is imminent.

Here’s what you need to know about what the tag would cost the Cowboys.

Tony Pollard franchise tag value

The Franchise Tag Salary for Running Backs in 2023 is $10.1 million. Eight running backs make at least $12 million annually, so the tag wouldn’t put Pollard in the top pay bracket of the position, but it would be a hefty bump over his rookie contract.

The Franchise Tag value varies by position. If the Cowboys re-signed Pollard and chose to use the tag on Schultz, the tight end would gross $11.3 million in 2023. Running backs earn less on franchise day than all other nonspecialized positions.

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Considering Pollard has been one of the NFL’s most efficient running backs since joining the league and was one step ahead of Ezekiel Elliott in 2022, a salary of $10.1 million would be a small price to pay for Dallas.

Tony Pollard contract

Pollard signed a four-year, $3.2 million rookie contract with the Cowboys after being drafted in 2019. He had a $1.1 million cap hit in 2022 with a base salary of $965,000 and a $167,000 signing bonus.

Whether Pollard agrees to a new long-term deal or earns $10.1 million from the franchise tag, he’s in for a massive pay rise in 2023.

Pollard has until mid-July to work out a long-term contract with the Cowboys when tagged with the tag. If the sides still can’t negotiate a deal by then, Pollard would have to play under the one-year tag in 2023.

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Tony Pollard Statistics

season gp Hurry Yds YPC Rec yds Total TD
2019 15 455 5.3 107 3
2020 16 435 4.3 193 5
2021 15 719 5.5 337 2
2022 16 1.007 5.2 371 12
In total 62 2,616 5.1 1,008 22

Pollard took on a bigger role in 2022 with a career-high 193 carries. He rewarded the Cowboys with 1,007 rushing yards (5.2 yards per carry) and a career-best 12 touchdowns. But he also suffered a broken leg in the NFC divisional round against the 49ers.

The Memphis product has spent most of his career in a timeshare with Ezekiel Elliott, but Pollard split in 2022 and appears to be a focus of Dallas’ offense going forward. Whether Elliott will return in 2023 remains to be seen, although the veteran’s contract ($11.86 million dead cap in 2023, per Spotrac) will make it harder for the Cowboys to get away from him.

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