The Dallas Cowboys could face a Sophie’s Choice of sorts this upcoming offseason when it comes to their running back depth chart. The Cowboys could potentially part ways with both running backs Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott early next year. But it seems more likely they’ll retain one of them. But which one?
Pollard is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason. As the team’s primary home-run threat in the backfield, he’s a vital member of the offense. According to Spotrac.com, Pollard’s estimated market value is $5.1 million a year.
But it’s unclear if the Cowboys will be willing to devote even more of their salary cap for that position to retain Pollard when they’re already making Elliott one of the highest-paid running backs in the entire NFL.
Elliott inked a massive six-year, $90 million contract extension back in September of 2019. The entirety of the deal spread a whopping $103 million over eight years, with $50 million guaranteed. This season,
Zeke is tied for second on the list of the highest paid running backs in the NFL with an average per year salary of $15 million according to OverTheCap.com. The only running back with a higher average? Christian McCaffrey, who averages $16 million and was recently traded by the Carolina Panthers to the San Francisco 49ers.
But Dallas has a potential out of Elliott’s lengthy contract this offseason with no more guaranteed money owed to him starting in 2023. But if the 27-year old running back stays is kept in Dallas, he will be owed $10.9 million next season (more than double of Pollard’s estimated worth).
Through six games so far this season, Pollard has racked up 292 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 55 carries, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Elliott has nearly double the rushing attempts with 94 carries for 386 yards and two scores on the ground averaging 4.1 yards per attempt. That average is tied for the second lowest of his seven year career.
While it seems unlikely that the Dallas Cowboys will be willing to part ways with both Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott, it also seems just as unlikely that they’ll retain both in 2023. The determining factor could be Pollard. If he is re-signed on a team-friendly deal, it would make parting ways with Elliott much easier. Either way, Dallas should have a running back or two on their draft shopping list come next April.