Cowboys Pro Bowl RB signs franchise tender

cowboys pro bowl rb signs franchise tender

Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard

The first of this year’s franchise tag recipients is now locked in to guaranteed money. Tony Pollard signed his Cowboys franchise tender Thursday morning, Todd Archer of tweets.

Pollard’s $10.1M salary is now fully guaranteed. The Cowboys and their breakout running back have until July 17 to work out an extension, but if the sides cannot come to terms, Pollard’s early decision to lock in that money shows he did not strongly consider staying away from the team absent a deal.

In between tagging Pollard and the fifth-year back signing his tag, the Cowboys released Ezekiel Elliott. The seven-year starter said he was amenable to taking a pay cut, but no numbers surfaced about how much of a trim the former rushing champion would accept. Instead, Elliott is a free agent. Pollard now leads a backfield that houses Malik Davis, Rico Dowdle and former Buccaneers starter Ronald Jones.

Pollard, who will turn 26 in April, is coming off a Pro Bowl season in which both he and Elliott scored 12 touchdowns. Pollard, however, topped Zeke with 1,378 scrimmage yards to power the Cowboys. His fractured fibula and high ankle sprain in the divisional round wounded the Cowboys’ upset effort in San Francisco, but the former fourth-round pick is expected to make a full recovery.

By signing the tender, Pollard can be fined for missing Cowboys minicamp or training camp. Having this matter out of the way so early showed the Memphis product was not planning to do so. Pollard should be expected to participate — in some capacity, at least — in Dallas’ training camp. No reports have surfaced indicating Pollard’s Week 1 availability is in question.

It would not surprise if the Cowboys added a backup-caliber back in the draft, as Elliott coming back currently resides as a long-odds scenario, but the team let Dalton Schultz walk to tag Pollard. The Cowboys have used the tag in each of the past six years. They were unable to sign Schultz, Dak Prescott and DeMarcus Lawrence to extensions that year. Each played on the tag, though the Cowboys were able to lock in Prescott and Lawrence to extensions the following spring. Schultz signed with the Texans earlier this week.

The Cowboys did lock in Dez Bryant to an extension agreement after a 2015 tag, and they did so as the Broncos were negotiating with tagged wideout Demaryius Thomas. Similar circumstances exist at Pollard’s position, with the Giants (Saquon Barkley) and Raiders (Josh Jacobs) having tagged their top running backs. Will the Cowboys complete an extension with Pollard by the July deadline?

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