Pollard’s tag gives Cowboys unenviable record as next decisions loom

With Monday’s franchise tag placement on running back Tony Pollard, the Cowboys nudged the first of what will be several dominoes regarding their 2023 roster.

The short-term fates of Ezekiel Elliott and Dalton Schultz are likely tied to the $10.1 million Pollard decision; the outcomes of those conversations within the front office will be revealed in the coming days, weeks, and months.

But for now, at this moment in time anyway, the team holds a unique record in the annals of NFL history.

The Cowboys currently have the most expensive running back corps the league has ever seen.

That, of course, is practically guaranteed to change soon as the club shifts its focus to Elliott’s contract.

Owner Jerry Jones has plainly stated he’d like to have the two-time rushing champ back in Dallas next season, but it won’t be at the aforementioned $16.7 million cap hit. Or even the $10.9 base salary he’s owed under his exiting pact.

Elliott has said he’d like to return, too, and even be willing to take a pay cut to do so. It will, therefore, be a matter of finding a number that’s palatable for all parties.

The list of veteran running backs who could be had this offseason is a long one, populated with names like Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, David Montgomery, Miles Sanders, Kareem Hunt, Jamaal Williams, Devin Singletary, and Rashaad Penny. Joe Mixon, Leonard Fournette, and even Derrick Henry could be on the move, too.

And every one of them who actually hits the open market only waters down the chances of Elliott landing a big-fish deal anywhere else.

The ripple effects of restructuring or even cutting Elliott will have a trickle-down cap effect that possibly impacts a player like Tyron Smith or a free agent at another position, like Odell Beckham Jr.

Then there’s always the draft to consider. After a lot of apparent interest on both sides, the Cowboys elected not to use one of their 45 formal combine meetings with Texas rusher Bijan Robinson.

Now with Pollard locked up via the tag, the odds of Dallas using this year’s first-round pick on Robinson would seem to have dropped significantly, although it’s wise to never say never when it comes to forecasting what the Joneses will do.

It’s clear, though, that they’ll need to do something, with Monday’s tagging of Pollard just the first step.

The Cowboys ownership love to sit atop leaguewide lists, but being the biggest overspenders on running backs probably isn’t a record they want to hang onto for long.

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