Cowboys Named Potential Trade Destination for 2-Time NFL TD Leader

Mike McCarthy and Dak Prescott

Getty Dak Prescott and head coach Mike McCarthy of the Dallas Cowboys.

The Dallas Cowboys could be a potential destination for one of the top players at his position.

As mentioned by Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton, the Cowboys are an NFL contender that “should consider” trading for the Los Angeles Chargers’ Austin Ekeler. Ekeler is seeking a trade due to being unhappy with his current contract, which pays him $6.3 million annually, the 13th-highest mark among all running backs. The Chargers shut down contract talks with Ekeler, leading to the two-time touchdown leader being granted permission to seek a trade.

Why the Cowboys Could Consider Austin Ekeler

Moton argues the case for why Dallas should make a play for Ekeler, citing the departure of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard coming off of a broken fibula injury.

“The Dallas Cowboys cut Ezekiel Elliott, and Tony Pollard underwent surgery on his fractured left fibula and a high ankle sprain in January,” said Moton. “According to ESPN’s Todd Archer, Pollard will be at ‘full strength’ before training camp, but he can split touches with Ekeler to form an electric one-two punch out of the Cowboys backfield.”

Not only is Pollard coming off of an injury that sidelines him for three months, he’s never proven to be a full-time back. In fact, even as Pollard posted a Pro Bowl season last year, it was Elliott that paced the Cowboys in carries, posting 231 to 193 carries.

While Dallas did sign former Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting running back Ronald Jones to complement Pollard, there’s no guarantee he’ll be on the roster by the time the season starts. Jones had just 17 carries in just six appearances with the Kansas City Chiefs last season and holds a dead cap hit of just $303,000 for next season. In other words, Jones could very well be a preseason roster cut.

Why the Cowboys Won’t Pursue Austin Ekeler

It’s obvious that the Cowboys should have some concern over Pollard’s ability to serve as the No. 1 back — he has started just six games during his career — but Moton warns with the Cowboys committing $10.1 million to Pollard’s franchise tag, there leaves little room to acquire Ekeler and give him a new contract in the process.

“Dallas franchise-tagged Pollard, which indicates he’s due for a big role in 2023,” says Moton. “With $10.1 million already locked into the running back position, the Cowboys have no reason to hand out another big contract to Ekeler.”

To demonstrate the lack of demand for running backs in today’s market, ex-Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders signed a deal worth $25.4 million across four years with the Carolina Panthers, resulting in an annual average value of slightly over $6.3 million.

Sanders is coming off of a Pro Bowl campaign and a Super Bowl appearance. Ekeler has never accomplished either feat, although he’s arguably the best two-way back in the league. The 27-year-old is coming off of a 913-yard, 13-touchdown season where he caught 107 passes — the fifth-most of any player in the NFL last season.

Furthermore, it’s clear that Ekeler has established himself as the league’s top touchdown threat, having combined for 20 touchdowns during the 2021 season and 18 during the 2022 season — the top marks for both years.

As dynamic as Ekeler is and as unproven as Pollard may be as a full-time back, don’t expect the Cowboys to make a move for the Chargers back. The more likely scenario sees Dallas find Pollard’s complementary back through the draft.

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