Cowboys RB Tony Pollard May Be Leaving Dallas, And These Star Replacements Could Take His Spot

Cowboys RB Tony Pollard May Be Leaving Dallas, And These Star Replacements Could Take His Spot

Tony Pollard’s days as a Dallas Cowboy could soon be coming to an end.

At least, that’s the idea being floated around.

CowboysSI predicted that America’s Team will move on from the running back, who was poised to make the jump to superstardom in 2023.  CowboysSI reporter Mike Fisher noted that sources expect Dallas to forego dishing out another big paycheck to Pollard. Instead, they will likely be looking for a cheaper replacement in the NFL draft in April.

Despite cracking the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season, Pollard failed to make the leap many assumed he would.

Although he notched 59 more carries in 2023 than he did the year before, Pollard failed to top his 2022 yardage and touchdown totals. His yards per carry average also declined by 1.2 yards.

In a 2024 that is considered make-or-break for the Cowboys, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine them moving on from a running back declining in production.  Such was the case when Dallas released two-time All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott last May.

And if the Cowboys do decide to go to the draft to solve their running back woes, they will have several highly touted prospects from which to choose, including Texas’ Jonathon Brooks and Notre Dame’s Audric Estime, according to Pro Football Focus.

Brooks had a hand in carrying the Longhorns to the College Football Playoff in his redshirt sophomore season.  The dynamic playmaker averaged 6.1 yards per carry, and accounted for 11 total touchdowns on the season.

However, Brook’s season was cut short due to a torn ACL suffered in November, which may be a cause for concern if the Cowboys are looking for an immediate impact.

On the other hand, the 5-foot-11-inch, 227-pound Estime would provide a change of pace from Pollard’s outside-the-tackles running style.  A powerful runner, Estime averaged 6.4 yards per carry and scored 18 touchdowns for the Fighting Irish in 2023.

Despite the tempting choices in April, the Cowboys could also opt for one of the seasoned veterans set to hit the market.

Bleacher Report suggested that former Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley could be looking for a new home this offseason. With a need to build a better core around quarterback Daniel Jones and his debacle of a contract, Barkley may be a salary cap sacrifice.

Barkley has been open about his desire to remain with the Giants, but told reporters he understands that the NFL is a business at the end of the day.  “Could I see myself in another uniform?  Yeah, it’s possible,” he said in a recent interview.

Injuries have prevented Barkley from being the generational-level talent many believed him to be when the Giants drafted him second overall in 2018.  A torn ACL ended his 2020 season only two games in, and his production has since failed to return to the level he showed in his promising rookie season.

Even former Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley is keen on the idea of Barkley joining his former squad.  He made the pitch to Barkley on social media himself.

While Barkley is an enticing option, he’s not the only star running back on the market.  Former Offensive Player of the Year Derrick Henry is another top name that the Cowboys could pursue in free agency.  His recent workout in Dallas has sparked rumors that the location may not be a coincidence.

Despite being 30 years old, Henry remains one of the best running backs in the NFL.  He’s rushed for over 1,000 yards every year since 2018, except for his injury-shortened 2021 campaign.  He’s also had 10 or more rushing touchdowns every year over the same span.

Dallas may be the optimal fit for the aging Henry.  He’s been the focal point of the Titans offense for the last six years, averaging nearly 300 carries a year during that time.  Dallas has a potent passing attack that can take the focus off of Henry, which can provide not only a balanced attack, but also allow Henry to maximize his remaining years in the league.

It’s a tough call between Barkley and Henry.  While Henry hasn’t had the injury concerns that Barkley has, Barkley is a younger, more versatile back who can fill in a number for the Dallas offense.

But the question of who will be Dallas’ running back of the future will come down primarily to one thing: cost.

Brooks, Estime or any of the backs in the draft will provide a lower cost and less banged-up option than anyone Dallas could sign in free agency.  The price tag is probably at the top of Jerry Jones’ mind when it comes to running back this offseason, given that the team has a number of high-profile free agents in 2025, including stars Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Micah Parsons and Zack Martin.

While some consider 2024 to be an all-or-nothing year for the Cowboys, they cannot neglect the future.  That’s why, even though it would be fun to see Saquon Barkley or Derrick Henry running through AT&T Stadium in 2024, their best bet is to find a young, cheaper option in the draft.  This will give them financial flexibility going into what will be a difficult and costly 2025 offseason.

Regardless of what the Cowboys decide to do, it’s a safe bet that Tony Pollard won’t be their feature back in 2024.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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