The Dallas Cowboys made the decision to place the franchise tag on running back Tony Pollard Monday, leaving Ezekiel Elliott’s future in limbo.
Pollard’s $10.1 million cap hit means that as of now, Dallas running backs count for just over 12% of the team’s salary cap. Four years remain on Elliott’s six-year, $90 million contract. His contract includes an out ahead of the 2023 season. The Cowboys would take an $11.8 million dead cap hit by releasing the running back. Elliott will be responsible for $16.72 million against the cap if he returns next season without a restructured contract.
All signs point to a divorce between the Cowboys and Elliott, who is coming off the worst season of his career. Elliott suited up in 15 games in 2022, recording career lows across the board. He rushed for 876 yards on 3.8 yards per carry and had zero 100-yard-plus games. He added 17 receptions for 92 yards.
Dallas fans feel the former first-round pick is good as gone unless he takes a massive pay cut.
“Zeke being cut as a post June 1st move would save $10.9 against the cap,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “As much as Jerry says he wants Zeke back, ultimately, I think Stephen gives Zeke his walking papers. And they draft a RB day 2 or 3.”
Cowboys Have an Ezekiel Elliott Situation to Figure Out
Per Matt Lombardo of Heavy.com, Elliott may not be willing to accommodate the team by taking a pay cut.
“The Dallas Cowboys could be on the verge of giving Ezekiel Elliott an ultimatum… The franchise and running back appear locked in a stare-down as the offseason begins,” Lombardo said on Feb. 18. “According to multiple league sources familiar with the running back market, I’m told the Cowboys are poised to ask Elliott to take a ‘massive pay cut’ in order to stay with the team.”