The good news for Cowboys running back Tony Pollard is that the broken ankle he suffered in the postseason won’t keep the team from applying the franchise tag to him. The bad news is the same.
Pollard’s shot at the open market will be blocked by application of the tag, absent a long-term deal before Tuesday’s deadline for using it. That’s the word from Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.
It means Pollard will be eligible for a one-year contract in the amount of $10.09 million. The amount becomes fully guaranteed if/when Pollard accepts it. It can be rescinded before he does.
At this point, there’s no reason for Pollard to not force application of the tag. Pollard and the Cowboys would have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal, after the tag is applied.
In many cases, a long-term deal when the tag is an issue becomes calculated by guaranteeing two years of the tag and adding a few years on the back end. For Pollard, that would be $22.2 million fully guaranteed at signing.
But that’s only $11.1 million per year, which would put Pollard toward the bottom of the top 10 at the position.
The biggest problem for Pollard and other franchise-tagged running backs comes from the fact that the Collective Bargaining Agreement gives the team the ability to squat on the player for another year, adding to the wear and tear he’ll experience before ever hitting the open market. And it would be easy for the Cowboys to tag Pollard a second time, pushing his shot at free agency back until 2025, when he’d have six years of NFL serve.
It’s never good for a player to be franchise tagged. It’s even worse for a running back, who needs to get paid fair value earlier than later — or he may never get paid fair value, at all.