Cowboys rumors: Tony Pollard decision could spell the end of Ezekiel Elliott

The Cowboys are rumored to be using the franchise tag on Tony Pollard this offseason but that could be bad news for Ezekiel Elliott’s future in Dallas.

It’s most definitely a turning point for the Dallas Cowboys in the 2023 offseason, particularly with their running back room. It’s been veteran Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard manning the backfield for several years now, but with the former fading in effectiveness and the latter set to become a free agent, it’s decision time.

As it turns out, though, the Cowboys might subtly be readying to start the future of the running back position in Dallas this offseason.

Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network reported on Tuesday that Dallas is planning to place the franchise tag on Pollard this offseason before he hits free agency.

For a player who’s been one of the most efficient backs in the league, it makes sense that the Cowboys don’t want to lose him. However, it’s the cap implications of that move that could spell a future that’s not in Dallas for Ezekiel Elliott.

Cowboys rumors: Tony Pollard getting franchise tag might push Ezekiel Elliott out

On the franchise tag, Pollard would be getting a projected $10.09 million next season and counting against the cap. If Dallas were to keep Elliott on the roster, even with a maximum restructuring of his deal, would still count just shy of $10 million against the cap himself.

Paying your running back room a combined $20 million for a single season when it is the year 2023 is not a sustainable model in the NFL. Even Jerry Jones and his running back-centric philosophies has to know that’s the truth.

Subsequently, it would be in the cards for the Cowboys to then designate Elliott as a post-June 1 cut (or a potential trade candidate) in order to save $10.9 million against the cap as opposed to the roughly $4 million or so they’d save if he were a pre-June 1 cut or trade.

Financially for a team that has holes on defense and needs at wide receiver and elsewhere as well, it simply doesn’t make sense to have both Pollard and Zeke making this amount of money against the cap. So if the plan is to make sure Pollard doesn’t leave by slapping him with the franchise tag, then it would be the most financially responsible decision for the Cowboys future.

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