There are going to be some very good players looking to cash in as free agents in 2023 in the NFL. One of the players that should have a healthy market is Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard.
Pollard has spent his career splitting time with Ezekiel Elliott, earning more and more playing time each season. 2022 was when he showcased that he is capable of handling a larger role should one present itself.
The former fourth-round pick appeared in 16 games this season, carrying the ball 193 times for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns. He also caught 39 passes for 371 yards and three more scores, either setting or tying a career-high in every statistic.
The Cowboys will assuredly work hard to bring him back, especially if they move on from Elliott, who has no more guaranteed money on his deal. But, if he is truly available, here are three teams who should pursue Pollard in NFL free agency.
The New York Giants are going to do all that they can to retain Saquon Barkley in free agency. He was the first, second and third option on their offense this season and is the main cog in making things work. Also entering free agency, Joe Schoen will have his work cut out for him in deciding how much to pay Barkley.
If the price becomes too high, Big Blue will have to pivot. Tony Pollard would be an excellent Plan B given the dual-threat ability that he has shown in Dallas. Pollard benefitted from a stronger supporting cast being around him, but he showed routinely just how explosive he can be. He held up as the lead back with Elliott sidelined as well.
Despite carrying the ball 102 fewer times, Pollard had only 305 fewer rushing yards than Barkley. Barkley had 18 more receptions than Pollard, but the Memphis product outgained him by 33 yards. Pollard also scored more touchdowns in 2022 than Barkley did, and will cost significantly less per year.
The Chicago Bears were the No. 1 ranked rushing attack in the NFL this season despite finishing with the worst record in the league, which was a first in league history. Justin Fields spear-headed that rushing attack, falling just short of the single-season rushing record for a quarterback.
However, the backfield could be in need of some help. David Montgomery is heading into free agency in 2023 and the Bears could look to upgrade. Tony Pollard would provide a much more explosive option to pair with Khalil Herbert, as Montgomery has more of a plodding style, averaging only 3.9 yards per carry in his career.
Chicago saw firsthand how good Pollard could be in their Week 8 matchup. He ran the ball 14 times for 131 yards and three touchdowns, adding one reception for 16 yards.
During the 2022 offseason, the Miami Dolphins made a concerted effort to upgrade the supporting cast around Tua Tagovailoa. It paid off big time as Tagovailoa was one of the most explosive passers in the league this past season, building a nice rapport with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
Now, they should focus on upgrading the backfield to take some pressure off of the passing game. Miami struggled to get the rushing game going, finishing 25th in yards and 31st in attempts.
With Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, Salvon Ahmed and Myles Gaskin all free agents, Miami could look to bring in another veteran. Tony Pollard would be a great fit as another explosive option capable of ripping off big plays.
If he is looking for an expanded, featured role, South Beach could appeal to Pollard. There aren’t many teams in the NFL that will have a featured role available in 2023, but the Dolphins look like they will be one of them.