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Tony Pollard Should Be the Most Coveted RB in Free Agency

The Dallas Cowboys running back is creating major value on the field. Expect rival teams to take that fully into account this offseason.

Tony Pollard continues to make life easier for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, but things will become awfully difficult in the Big D when he hits the free agent market in March 2023.

The Cowboys are currently paying RB1 Ezekiel Elliott $15 million on average and $90 million total, the most among all running backs in the NFL. He hasn’t produced enough on the field to justify that sort of money, and he can’t blame the offensive line.

Certainly not while Pollard is tearing it up while earning just $965,000.

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In most cases, you’d call that a good problem. An embarrassment of backfield riches of sorts. That’s not what’s happening here, however — Pollard isn’t only showing out, but showing that he’s absolutely capable of being the feature back for a contending team.

Zeke, who missed two games with a sprained knee, rushed for two touchdowns in his return, but that was mostly because the ‘Boys opted to call his number on the goal line. Otherwise, he put together another ugly game in which he averaged just 2.8 yards per carry; an eight-yard tote was his longest of the day.

Then there was Pollard, who finished with six catches for 109 yards and two receiving touchdowns. That’s on top of 80 rush yards with an average 5.3 yards per carry. In two games without Elliott in the lineup this season, Pollard ran for 246 yards and four scores.

In Dallas, it is really no longer much of a secret that Pollard is the better back of the two — and he should be paid as such. And before we get into the stats, keep in mind that Pollard has missed a total three games since 2019 and only started five games.

No, Pollard doesn’t have the same name recognition as fellow upcoming free agent backs as Saquon Barkley, Kareem Hunt, and Josh Jacobs, but this sort of production is hard to argue with.

Let’s go deeper.

Ezekiel Elliott vs. Tony Pollard

2022 Rushing Stats

Tony Pollard’s 2023 Market Value

Pollard joins a decent list of secondary running backs ready for that next step as the No. 1 guy, namely Kareem HuntSaquon Barkley, and David Montgomery. Whether Dallas is willing to let him walk is unknown, but again, he will absolutely be coveted.

  • Spotrac’s metrics suggest that Pollard could garner something in the neighborhood of a three-year deal worth $23,392,563 this offseason, which would rank 11th among NFL running backs by total value, checking in just behind Austin Ekeler.
  • Under that projected contract, the 25-year-old would be paid an average $7.97 million per year, one spot behind Packers RB1 Aaron Jones.
Comparable Players
J. Mixon (CIN)4$48M$12M24
L. Fournette (TB)3$21M$7M27
N. Hines (BUF)3$18.6M$6.2M24
C. Edmonds (DEN)2$12.1M$6M25
Comparable by Stats
Mixon ’18-1976.80.432.6
Fournette ’20-2143.70.523.89
Hines ’19-2018.10.163.34
Edmonds ’20-2137.10.113.43
Pollard ’20-2244.40.32.1

As the numbers indicate, Pollard is also a formidable dual threat. It’s not eye-popping on, say, a LaDainian Tomlinson level, but one receiving touchdown roughly once every three games is more than respectable. Being in the same conversation in terms of production as Joe Mixon and Leonard Fournette, two respected RB1s and among the top-10 paid backs in the NFL, is a feather in his cap as well.

Meanwhile, as Dallas owner Jerry Jones continues to salivate over the idea of Odell Beckham Jr. joining his team, perhaps he should prioritize Pollard before he makes any moves that disrupt the payroll. The running back is, after all, quite arguably Dallas’ most reliable offensive weapon this season — and not just in the backfield.

That naturally makes him an enticing proposition for teams far beyond just the DFW this offseason, so the Cowboys would be wise to behave proactively lest he walk away for nothing.

Tony Pollard Contract & Salary Overview

Years: 4
Total value: $3,187,780
Average annual value: $796,945
2022 salary: $965,000
Free agency: 2023

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