Dallas Cowboys won’t place franchise tag on RB Tony Pollard, but do they want him back?

The Dallas Cowboys want running back Tony Pollard back in 2024 but at a much cheaper price.

A year ago, the Cowboys used the franchise tag to retain Pollard following ahis breakout Pro Bowl season in 2022, guaranteeing him $10.1 million on a one-year deal.

Pollard, coming off a broken leg in a January playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers, did not live up to expectations in his first season as the team’s primary running back.

He recorded 1,005 yards and six touchdowns on 252 carries in 17 starts.

But the big plays and explosiveness was lacking, compared to 2022 when he rushed for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns on 193 carries, averaging a whopping 5.2 yards per carry in a part-time role with just four starts behind Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys are not down on Pollard and want him to return.

The general consensus in the organization is that he was rounded into his old form late in the 2023 season and they believe he will be much better in 2024.

All-Pro edge rusher Micah Parsons shared a similar opinion on “The Stephen A. Smith Show” last week.

“I would say toward the end of the season Tony Pollard was catching his rhythm again,” Parsons said. “I do think he’s an every-down guy. You’ve got to think, he broke his fibula, tibia, something, that’s a catastrophic injury. You’re talking about a guy that’s really been off from that January, came back Week 1 but he didn’t really do a lot.”

If Pollard returns it will likely be after he hits the open market.

The franchise tag for Pollard would be $12.1 million.

The team’s decision to not use the tag is part of a continued decline in the value of running backs.

No free agent running back will receive the franchise tag in 2024, and that includes Austin Ekeler, Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and two-time rushing champion Derrick Henry.

Ekeler, Barkley and Jacobs had the tag placed on them last season.

And while Henry and Barkely have been linked to the Cowboys in free agency, the team would like to reduce its financial commitments at the position.

The departed Elliott is still counting $6 million against the salary cap in dead money.

The team is focused on bringing back Pollard and pairing him with a bigger back, possibly a pick in the NFL Draft.