At a time when many believe the star is fading for Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot and rising for Cowboys running back Tony Pollard, the man who writes the checks has a different viewpoint.
Appearing on NFL Network, owner Jerry Jones said that Elliott “has to be the focus” of the team’s running back game. “He has to be the focal point,” Jones said. “There is room for Pollard while Zeke is in there.”
Pollard is expected to play some receiver, lining up in the slot. Still, Pollard was widely viewed as the better option in the running game last year.
Maybe that’s because Elliott was fighting through a knee injury. Regardless, there’s no way the Cowboys would be paying Elliott $12.4 million this year if the salary hadn’t become fully guaranteed in 2021. And there’s no way they’ll pay him $10 million next year unless he has a year on par with his rookie season.
Meanwhile, Pollard may not be thrilled about the plan, as it was articulated by the team’s owner. Pollard enters the final year of his rookie contract, at a mere $969,000 in total pay. The more he does in 2022, the more interest he’ll have on the open market.
A cynic would wonder whether Jones wants to de-emphasize Pollard for that reason alone. Grind up Zeke this year, cut him after the season, and sign Pollard for less than he’d get if had a big season in his contract year.