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Cowboys RB Tony Pollard signs franchise tag; two sides have until July 17 to reach long-term deal

The ink will soon be dry on Tony Pollard's franchise tag.

The running back signed his one-year deal, becoming the first to put pen to paper on a franchise tag in 2023, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported on Thursday. Pollard's contract will pay him $10.091 million in 2023 and is fully guaranteed.

Pollard and the Cowboys are still able to negotiate a multi-year deal up until the July 17 deadline. The 25-year-old is still recovering from a broken leg and high ankle sprain that he suffered in the playoffs against the 49ers.

Pollard emerged as the top option in Dallas' backfield in 2022, breaking 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career in a season in which he set a new career-high mark for carries with 193. Instead of playing a secondary role behind Ezekiel Elliott (as he did in prior seasons), Pollard proved to be a legitimate weapon who could be used in tandem with Elliott, receiving 14.5 touches per game in 2022, the most in a season since he entered the league in 2019. Pollard and Elliott were the only running back duo to record 900-plus scrimmage yards and 12-plus touchdowns, and the only pair to finish with 60-plus rushing yards per game and nine-plus rushing touchdowns in a season in NFL history, per NFL Research.

Pollard fared so well, the Cowboys felt comfortable enough to move on from Elliott, releasing him earlier in March after placing the tag on Pollard to ensure the younger back wouldn't be able to leave Dallas for greener pastures.

Pollard has proven himself as a big-play threat who is capable of making a difference on every down. The proof is in his statistics: Pollard ranks second among running backs since 2019 in career yards per carry (5.1), trailing only Cleveland's Nick Chubb.

Dallas received enough proof to invest in Pollard, at least for 2023. The running back market remains a desert, but after making less than $1 million in the final year of his rookie deal in 2022, Pollard has increased his income tenfold on the tag. We'll see if Dallas decides to invest in him beyond 2023.

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