Reports: RB Tony Pollard agrees to deal with Titans

Running back Tony Pollard agreed to a three-year, $24 million contract with the Tennessee Titans on Monday, according to multiple reports.

Pollard and second-year player Tyjae Spears are the new face of the Titans’ running game with Derrick Henry hitting free agency.

Pollard’s deal matches the reported value of the Bears’ agreement with D’Andre Swift, a free agent who played for the Eagles last season.

After five seasons in Dallas, including 2023 under the franchise tag, Pollard, 26, becomes the first acquisition under head coach Brian Callahan.

Pollard rushed for 3,621 yards with 23 touchdowns in 79 games (23 starts) with the Cowboys, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Memphis. He also caught 176 passes for 1,319 yards and five TDs.

Reports indicate interest was high in Pollard with the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants among the teams hoping to huddle with the big-play back.

Pollard’s exit leaves Dallas in need of a starter at the position.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) carries the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys RB Tony Pollard (shoulder) set to play vs. Chargers

Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard practiced in full on Saturday for the second straight day and is ready to play in Monday night’s road game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Pollard banged up a shoulder during last Sunday night’s 42-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He was limited in Thursday’s practice before the health of the shoulder displayed improvement.

Pollard rushed for a season-low 29 yards on eight carries against the 49ers. He leads Dallas in rushing with 340 yards.

Returner/receiver KaVontae Turpin (ankle) also is set to play after being hurt against San Francisco.

Dallas safety Juanyeh Thomas (hamstring) is doubtful, while guard Chuma Edoga (illness) is questionable.

The Cowboys have yet to make a roster move involving outside linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (neck). Dallas coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday that Vander Esch will be placed on injured reserve prior to Monday’s game.

–Field Level Media

Jan 21, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) looks for room to run against the Philadelphia Eagles during an NFC divisional round game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Chubb on RB pay: ‘There’s really nothing we can do’

A group of top NFL running backs met via Zoom to discuss the salaries being paid at the position, and Cleveland Browns star Nick Chubb had a sobering message for his fellow running backs.

“Right now, there’s really nothing we can do,” Chubb told ESPN on Sunday.

Chubb confirmed to the outlet that he was among the players to take part in the videoconference on Saturday, which Pro Football Talk reported was the brainchild of Austin Ekeler of the Los Angeles Chargers. Chubb said Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry and Saquon Barkley were among the running backs who joined in.

The meeting came on the heels of Barkley (New York Giants), Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders) and Tony Pollard (Dallas Cowboys) all being unable to reach multi-year contracts ahead of the deadline for franchise-tagged players.

ESPN said the running backs brainstormed ideas but did not come up with any plans to address ways to boost their pay.

“We’re kind of handcuffed with the situation. We’re the only position that our production hurts us the most,” Chubb said, per ESPN. “If we go out there and run 2,000 yards with so many carries, the next year they’re going to say, you’re probably worn down. It’s tough. … It hurts us at the end of the day.”

Barkley and Jacobs both were franchise tagged by their teams but have not signed their franchise tenders, worth $10.09 million for the 2023 season. Pollard signed his tag and is expected to report to training camp. Barkley and Jacobs are not, per ESPN.

The average salary for an NFL running back is $1.76 million, which is about $1 million less than the average for a player on offense, according to Spotrac. The average salary for a left tackle is $8.95 million, by contrast.

McCaffrey is playing on a four-year, $64 million contract extension signed with the Carolina Panthers — the highest annual average pay at the position.

“This is Criminal,” McCaffrey tweeted about the contract situations facing Barkley, Jacobs and Pollard. “Three of the best PLAYERS in the entire league, regardless of position.”

Chubb agreed.

“We’re definitely in a tough situation, running backs as a whole,” he said. “Saquon’s a great player and you can ask anyone around the league or even on the Giants how much he means to that team. So it’s hard seeing him not get what he deserves.”

–Field Level Media

Jun 13, 2023; Costa Mesa, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) during minicamp at the Hoag Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Top RBs plan Zoom call to discuss depressed market

Los Angeles Chargers star running back Austin Ekeler has organized a online video call on Saturday night with several of his peers to discuss the depressed market at their position, Pro Football Talk reported.

Per the report, all of the high-profile running backs have been invited to the conversation on the Zoom platform. The NFL Players Association also will take part in some capacity.

The reported call comes on the heels of star running backs Saquon Barkley (New York Giants), Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders) and Tony Pollard (Dallas Cowboys) all unable to reach multi-year contracts ahead of the deadline for franchise-tagged players.

That brought about very vocal responses over social media from fellow running backs Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts), Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans), Christian McCaffrey (San Francisco 49ers) and Najee Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers), among others.

Ekeler, himself, also was unable to receive a long-term contract and is heading into the final season of a four-year, $24.5-million deal with the Chargers.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) dives into the end zone for a touchdown during the second half against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Scheer-USA TODAY Sports

Running backs express outrage at lack of contract action

Jonathan Taylor and Derrick Henry weren’t shy about voicing their displeasure after fellow running backs Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard were unable to reach multi-year contracts ahead of the deadline for franchise-tagged players.

Barkley, Jacobs and Pollard are in line to play under the $10.091 million tag this season, provided the first two sign the tender.

While Barkley tweeted “It is what it is” on Monday, Taylor had a much longer response in regard to the situation surrounding the New York Giants running back.

“1. If you’re good enough, they’ll find you. 2. If you work hard enough, you’ll succeed,” the Colts running back wrote on Twitter. “…If you succeed … 3. You boost the Organization …and then… Doesn’t matter, you’re a RB.”

Henry, a two-time rushing champion for the Tennessee Titans, took an even strong stance.

“At this point, just take the RB position out the game then,” he tweeted. “The ones that want to be great & work as hard as they can to give their all to an organization, just seems like it don’t even matter. I’m with every RB that’s fighting to get what they deserve.”

San Francisco 49ers star Christian McCaffrey, who is the NFL’s highest-paid running back at $16 million per season, labeled the situation as “criminal.”

Pittsburgh Steelers standout Najee Harris said in part that the “notion that we deserve less is a joke.”

Barkley, 26, was the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft after a dynamic career at Penn State. He posted a career-high 1,312 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 16 games (all starts) last season while playing on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.

The Giants’ current regime of general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll did not draft Barkley, but he appeared to be part of their long-term plans. Reports indicated that the sides were negotiating a long-term deal up until the deadline.

The Las Vegas Raiders did not pick up the fifth-year option on Jacobs’ rookie contract a year ago.

Jacobs, 25, responded by putting up 1,653 rushing yards on 340 touches (4.9 per attempt) and 12 touchdowns while starting all 17 games. He added 400 receiving yards in order to lead the league with 2,053 total yards from scrimmage. He was a first-team All-Pro and received his second Pro Bowl nod.

The Dallas Cowboys’ running game will go through Pollard, who is taking over RB1 from the released Ezekiel Elliott. Pollard took part in offseason activities as he recovered from ankle surgery, and he is expected to be ready to go when training camp opens July 26.

Pollard, 26, was selected to his first Pro Bowl after last season, in which he ran for a career-high 1,007 yards. He added 39 receptions for 371 yards, and he scored a combined 12 touchdowns in 16 games (four starts).

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) before the wild card game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Cowboys to release RB Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will be released as early as Wednesday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported hours before the official start of the NFL league year.

Elliott, 28, was scheduled to count $16.4 million against the 2023 salary cap and negotiations geared toward lowering that number were unsuccessful, per the report.

Cutting Elliott would save the Cowboys $4.86 million if he’s released Wednesday. Opting to designate Elliott as a post-June 1 cut would save $10.9 million.

Elliott was slowed in the second half of last season by a knee injury and wasn’t fully healthy in 2021. He rushed for a career-low
876 yards and 3.9 yards per carry in 2022 while backup Tony Pollard emerged as a 1,000-yard rusher and big-play threat.

The Cowboys used the franchise tag in March to retain Pollard at a cost of $10.1 million, resulting in a commitment of more than $27 million to the position for 2023.
Elliott signed a six-year, $90 million contract in 2019.

He ranks third in franchise history with 8,262 rushing yards, 68 rushing and 80 total touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Jan 22, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) is helped off the field during the second quarter of a NFC divisional round game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Pollard will not return to the game. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Cowboys RB Tony Pollard has ‘tightrope’ ankle surgery

Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard underwent surgery to repair ligaments in his ankle on Tuesday, ESPN and the Dallas Morning News reported.

Pollard suffered a high ankle sprain and a fractured fibula late in the first half of Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round of the playoffs.

He underwent what’s known as a “tightrope” surgery to provide stability to the injured ankle, per ESPN. His fibula, on the other hand, will heal over time without a procedure.

A Pro Bowler for the first time, Pollard was replaced by Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook on Tuesday for next month’s Pro Bowl Games.

Pollard ran for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns on 193 carries this season — all career highs — while splitting time in the Dallas backfield with Ezekiel Elliott. Pollard, a fourth-round draft pick in 2019, is set to become a free agent.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Dallas Cowboys center Tyler Biadasz (63) is helped off the field after an injury during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys C Tyler Biadasz to undergo MRI on ankle

Dallas Cowboys starting center Tyler Biadasz will undergo an MRI on Friday to determine the severity of the ankle injury he sustained in Thursday night’s win over the Tennessee Titans.

The Cowboys believe Biadasz suffered a high-ankle sprain, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Team owner and general manager Jerry Jones said during a radio appearance that he was hopeful the injury “may not be as bad as we think.”

“But we’ll see how he responds,” Jones added.

Jones also told 105.3 The Fan that quarterback Dak Prescott likely hyperextended his knee during the game. Prescott came up limping after a second-half play but never came out of the game.

“He’s in good shape,” Jones said Friday. “He might have hyperextended it a little bit. We were checking with the sideline and we knew he was going to be good.”

Biadasz was injured on the final play of the third quarter during the Cowboys’ 27-13 win. He did not return and was in a walking boot standing on the sideline during the fourth quarter.

Prior to the injury, Biadasz was the Cowboys’ snap counts leader on offense, having played in 100 percent of the offensive snaps, save for end-of-game blowouts against Minnesota and Indianapolis. He started all 17 games for the Cowboys in 2021.

Jones also said he expects running back Tony Pollard (thigh) to return in Week 18.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Indianapolis Colts head coach Jeff Saturday before the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Fritz Pollard Alliance probing Colts hire of Jeff Saturday

NFL interim coach promotions are not subject to the diversity-driven Rooney Rule, but the Fritz Pollard Alliance formally opened an inquiry into the Indianapolis Colts’ decision to replace Frank Reich with former player Jeff Saturday.

“In light of the recent interim head coaching hire in Indianapolis, the FPA has initiated an inquiry with the NFL into whether this hiring process conformed with NFL Hiring Guidelines for naming an interim Head Coach,” a statement from the organization said.

Hiring guidelines for NFL head coaches demand two minority candidates receive formal interviews for the vacancy. That is not the case for interim coaches, whether promoted from the existing coaching staff or the more uncommon path taken by owner Jim Irsay in pulling Saturday from a studio seat at ESPN.

Irsay said at the press conference to introduce Saturday that the only problem was media “make it a problem or perception.”

Saturday’s only coaching experience was at the high school level. One former Saturday teammate, receivers coach Reggie Wayne, was on Reich’s coaching staff but said he wasn’t considered for the interim post.

Wayne said this week he wouldn’t have accepted Reich’s offer to be an assistant coach after three years of pestering had he known how it all would end. Wayne said if the Colts had offered him the job over Saturday, a teammate for a decade in Indy, he would have taken it.

“(Expletive) yeah,” Wayne said.

Irsay said the commitment between the Colts and Saturday would not change plans to follow a full review and interview process for the permanent position in the offseason.

“At the end of the season, there will be a full process of reviewing permanent head coach, which we will have an interview process for and go from there. This is for eight games and hopefully more,” he said.

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) is tackled by Detroit Lions safety DeShon Elliott (5) in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (knee) sits out practice

The Dallas Cowboys returned to the practice field Monday coming off their bye week but without No. 1 running back Ezekiel Elliott, who’s still nursing a knee injury.

Elliott told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Monday that the swelling has gone down but that he’s not sure when he will return to practice. He said he’ll wear a brace when he does return. The Cowboys’ first full practice session of the week is Wednesday.

Elliott injured the knee in the Cowboys’ Week 7 win over Detroit and then missed the team’s Week 8 game against the Chicago Bears.

Tony Pollard assumed starting running back duties against the Bears and rushed 14 times for 131 yards and three touchdowns. Pollard, 25, will be the lead back this week if Elliott is unable to go.

The Cowboys visit Green Bay this week in coach Mike McCarthy’s return to the home of the Packers, who he coached for 13 years.

Elliott, 27, has rushed for 443 yards and four touchdowns in seven games this season.

–Field Level Media