The Dallas Cowboys are going to have to make some decisions at running back next season regarding Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott. Pollard, who is coming off a career year as a free agent, suffered an injury in Sunday's divisional game of the playoffs.
Aging Ezekiel Elliott's progress is slowing down while he is still being paid a boatload of money. In the 2023 season, he carries a $16.7 million cap hit and is coming off a career-low season where he rushed for 876 yards and just 3.8 yards per carry.
Zeke knows that the team could potentially cut him to save cap space and work a deal with Pollard, but he is reportedly open to taking a pay cut to stay with the team, as per Michael Gehlken, Cowboys reporter for the Dallas Morning News.
On September 4, Elliott signed a six-year extension with the Cowboys worth $90 million, with $50 million guaranteed, that kept him on the team through 2026. Entering the 2023 season, Elliot had a dead cap hit of $16 million, and the team could finally cut him.
Pollard, who is two years younger, has been more productive for the Cowboys in the last two years and is set to become a free agent as his rookie deal has expired. Dallas would love to keep both backs but is likely to prioritize keeping Pollard.
The team is open to franchise-tagging Pollard if a long-term deal isn't reached before free agency.
Could either Ezekiel Elliott or Tony Pollard sign elsewhere in a deep free-agent running back class?
The running backs' free agent class this off-season will be one of the best in recent years. Free agent running backs this off-season include Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, Miles Sanders, Tony Pollard, David Montgomery, and potentially more backs that could get cut in the off-season.
After the Raiders didn't pick up Jacobs' fifth-year option, he led the league in rushing yards this season. Barkley recorded his third 1,000-plus yard season, including a career-high 1,312 yards this season.
Sanders had the first 1,000-yard season of his career while recording a career-high 11 touchdowns this season.
Pollard and Elliot could easily join this list of talented veteran backs to test the market. As the days come closer to free agency and the off-season, we'll get a better idea of what they decide to do and who they keep if they are unable to retain both.
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