Cowboys RBs Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle Will Reach Free Agency

The Cowboys made a notable but expected move last offseason by cutting Ezekiel Elliott. The move brought an end to the former rushing champion’s time in Dallas, and it allowed a new group of backs to operate in his place.

The position was led in 2023 by Tony Pollard, who flashed potential as a lead back during his time splitting reps with Elliott. Playing on the franchise tag, Pollard entered the season with considerable expectations, but his production was relatively underwhelming. The former fourth-rounder again reached 1,000 rushing yards, but he did so while averaging 1.2 fewer yards per carry than he did in 2022.

As a result, Pollard’s performance would make a second tag (valued at $12.1MM) a non-starter for the Cowboys. Indeed, the 26-year-old will be allowed to reach the open market next month, Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News reports. The same is also true of backup Rico Dowdle, who has been with the team since 2020.

Dowdle’s role has been a minor one for much of his tenure, but earned the No. 2 spot during training camp last summer. Having seen only seven regular season carries before this season, the former UDFA received 89 in 2023. Dowdle produced 361 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, adding 144 yards and another pair of scores in the passing game. The 25-year-old could search out a more prominent role in free agency, although the list of high-profile veterans at the position will no doubt hinder the market for all involved.

If Pollard and Dowdle both depart, running back will be a position to watch closely in Dallas. The team’s third-leading rusher amongst running backs last season was rookie Deuce Vaughnwho saw just 23 carries. Even an uptick in usage for 2024 and beyond would need to be accompanied by an addition at the top of the depth chart. Saquon BarkleyJosh Jacobs, Derrick Henry and Austin Ekeler are among the backs set to reach free agency next month, so Dallas will have a number of options to choose from. Of course, new deals for Pollard and/or Dowdle should not be ruled out if they can be retained on cost-effective deals.

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