Tony Pollard is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Ezekiel Elliott is scheduled to count $16.72 million against the Cowboys’ salary cap. Rico Dowdle is scheduled to become a restricted free agent.
Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith has praise for Malik Davis, who had 38 carries for 161 yards and a touchdown in his rookie season. For now, though, Davis is the only certainty for the Cowboys at the position for 2023.
Smith wants the Cowboys to use the franchise tag on Pollard while attempting to sign him to a long-term deal and to restructure Elliott’s contract to keep him as a backup.
“I’m keeping both,” Smith told PFT, while making the rounds on radio row promoting Bounty paper towels as his “wing man.” “I may franchise tag Pollard and I may go for a contract restructure with Zeke. But I’m keeping both, and the reason why is because we’ve got to get Pollard back healthy, and we need Zeke, and we need Malik as well. We need that three-headed monster right now to rotate. Malik gives us a chance to get Pollard time to get back healthy again.”
Pollard, who made the Pro Bowl for the first time after a career-high 1,007 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, underwent surgery for a high ankle sprain after being injured in the divisional round loss to the 49ers.
The projected franchise tag for running backs is $10.09 million.
Elliott, who turns 28 this summer, is due to make a $10.9 million base salary in 2023. He has no guaranteed money left on his contract.
Smith also wants the Cowboys to get some help at receiver after trading Amari Cooper last offseason and failing to re-sign Cedrick Wilson. Noah Brown was the team’s second-leading wideout with 43 receptions for 555 yards and three touchdowns.
“I’ve got to get CeeDee Lamb some help. I’ve got to CeeDee Lamb some help,” Smith said twice for emphasis. “There were some other decisions that could have been made [last offseason] that would have given CeeDee Lamb the help he needed. I mean, losing Wilson? If you let Amari go, you’ve got to keep Cedrick Wilson. That’s how I see some of that. They have to get somebody to help support him, blow the top off defenses, so they cannot put Lamb in a box and have him try to make miraculous catches and expose him to injury.”
The Cowboys, like all teams, have some decisions to make and some work to do this offseason.