The Dallas Cowboys face a number of decisions this offseason but none will get more scrutiny than how the team approaches the running back position. Tony Pollard is expected to be in high demand when free agency begins in March, while Dallas is likely to ask Ezekiel Elliott to take a pay cut. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox offered a bold prediction suggesting the Cowboys could look start over completely at running back by moving on from both stars.
“The Cowboys are projected to be $7.6 million over the salary cap,” Knox wrote on February 8, 2023. “While letting Pollard go might not be the boldest of decisions, moving on from him and Elliott would be rather daring. Guess what? We see it happening.
“While Elliott is under contract through 2026, Dallas could save $10.9 million off the 2023 cap by releasing him with a post-June 1 designation. That would free up enough space to re-sign Pollard, but Dallas will have a different direction in mind.”
Could the Cowboys Move on From Zeke & Pollard by Drafting a Running Back?
If the Cowboys were to surprisingly move on from both Pollard and Elliott, what would the team’s alternative plan be at running back? One option would be for Dallas to use a high draft pick on a rusher, allowing the team to financially benefit from their rookie deal over higher priced veterans. Malik Davis is also under contract through next season and could potentially team up with a rookie to form a younger tandem in Dallas.
“Instead of spending on two pricey ball-carriers, the Cowboys instead look to pair 2022 undrafted rookie Malik Davis with a highly drafted 2023 rookie and use whatever excess cap they have to improve Prescott’s collection of pass-catchers,” Knox added.
Cowboys May Be Heading Towards a ‘Stare Down’ With Ezekiel Elliott Over Pay Cut, Says Insider
Elliott still has four seasons remaining on his $90 million contract, but the Cowboys have an out in his deal this offseason. Dallas could release Elliott, but the team would take an $11.8 million dead cap hit by cutting the former Pro Bowler. The Cowboys could also look to restructure Elliott’s deal rather than completely moving on from the beloved star.
Not everyone expects the Cowboys to move on from either Pollard or Elliott this offseason. Heavy Sports NFL insider Matt Lombardo reported that there is a “strong belief” around the league that Dallas will use the franchise tag to retain Pollard and push Elliott to take a pay cut in order to remain on the roster.
“Some inside the league believe Elliott and the Cowboys could be headed for a stare down,” Lombardo detailed. “Talking to multiple league sources in Mobile, Alabama ahead of the Senior Bowl, there’s a strong belief inside the NFL that the Cowboys will approach Elliott about taking a pay cut and use the franchise tag on fellow back Tony Pollard.
“That’s because even if the Cowboys wanted to move on from Elliott completely, a post-June 1 release would create $10.9 million in cap space but also trigger a dead-money charge of $11.8 million combined in 2023 and 2024.”