Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) reacts with quarterback Dak Prescott (4) after a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first half during the wild card game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

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Cowboys use franchise tag to retain RB Tony Pollard

Running back Tony Pollard received the franchise tag from the Dallas Cowboys, preventing him from fleeing in free agency with a $10.09 million guarantee for the 2023 season.

The deadline to apply the franchise tag is Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.

Pollard’s 2022 breakout season ended with a bad leg break, but he’s expected to be full strength in time for the mandatory portion of offseason workouts.

Players given the non-exclusive franchise tag can still meet with interested teams. If Pollard receives a contract offer from another team, the Cowboys can choose to match the offer to retain Pollard, or decline to match and accept two first-round picks as trade compensation.

Pollard, 25, ran for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns on 193 carries — all career highs — while splitting time in the Dallas backfield with Ezekiel Elliott in 2022.

Pollard, a fourth-round draft pick in 2019, suffered a high ankle sprain and a fractured fibula late in the first half of the Cowboys’ divisional playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Ten days later he underwent “tightrope” surgery to provide stability to the injured ankle.

His fibula should return to full strength by late March, Pollard said.

A Pro Bowler for the first time, Pollard was replaced by Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook for the Pro Bowl Games.

Dallas has regularly relied on the franchise tag to keep key players, including tight end Dalton Schultz (2022), quarterback Dak Prescott (2020), and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (2018, 2019). Only Lawrence in 2019 reached a long-term deal with the Cowboys before the July deadline to remove the one-year franchise tender and replace it with a multi-year agreement.

The Cowboys addressed using the tag to keep Pollard on the roster last week at the NFL Scouting Combine. Applying the tag Monday allows the Cowboys to negotiate restructuring with Elliott, 28, who could ultimately be released to clear the starting role for Pollard.

Elliott and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expressed interest in having both players on the roster for the 2023 season.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
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