Cowboys Could Replace Tony Pollard With 11-TD Back - Sport News

Cowboys Could Replace Tony Pollard With 11-TD Back

The Dallas Cowboys could be forced to seek a new starting running back.

Tony Pollard

With Tony Pollard hitting free agency, the Cowboys could seek a new running back through the draft. Mike Crum of Cowboys Wire suggests Dallas target the University of Oregon’s Bucky Irving as a potential replacement. Crum argues that if the Cowboys are looking for a “cheaper” replacement for Pollard, Irving could be the guy to target in the second round.

“Pollard and Irving are very similar backs, both with the ability to break any play for a TD. Irving knows how to take a hit and stay solid and upright, and he caused 61 missed tackles this season. If Dallas wants a cheaper Pollard replacement, Irving could be the pick. He will likely do better with an Ezekiel Elliott-type ahead of him to take the in-game beating of an every down running back.”

Why Cowboys Could Target RB Bucky Irving

Irving isn’t exactly a big back at 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds. As Crum mentions, the more ideal scenario may be Irving being paired with a bigger type of back acquired through free agency — the Green Bay Packers‘ A.J. Dillon is a free agent and is 247 pounds — as the Cowboys start anew at running back.

The 21-year-old Irving was a Second-Team All-Pac 12 selection during his junior season, posting 11 touchdowns and 1,180 rushing yards on 6.3 yards per carry during his final collegiate season. He also posted 56 receptions for 413 receiving yards, making him a dual-threat option.

In NFL Draft Buzz’s scouting report of Irving, they argue that Irving’s low center of gravity is actually a benefit for him.

“Bucky Irving’s exceptional ability to elude tackles and slip through defenses sets him apart. Irving’s lower center of gravity not only provides excellent pad leverage but also allows him to absorb and shrug off tackles while keeping his momentum. This combination of agility and balance is rare and makes him a unique prospect.”

Why Cowboys Could Move On From RB Tony Pollard

After playing under the $10.1 million franchise tag in 2023, Pollard will enter the 2024 offseason with the likely prospect of signing a normal contract. However, the 26-year-old didn’t exactly impress during his first season as a starting running back.

Pollard’s efficiency declined in a major way, going from 5.2 yards per carry in 2022 to 4.0 yards per carry this season. Furthermore, he went from 12 total touchdowns to just six this season. That was despite the Cowboys leading the NFL in points per game (29.9 points per game) with Dak Prescott leading the league with 36 touchdown passes as an MVP candidate.

According to Spotrac, Pollard’s projected market value is $6.5 million per season across two years at a total of $13 million. That isn’t exactly costly, but considering the devalued nature of the running back position, Dallas may balk at the idea of giving Pollard a two-year deal.

As Crum notes, the Cowboys may simply be better off going “cheaper” at the running back position, which means simply moving on from Pollard altogether.

“The new analytics team in Dallas is likely telling the Jones’ that their best strategy is to go cheaper at the running back position, and to just draft the next guy for 2024,” writes Crum.

If the Cowboys do indeed move on from Pollard, the most likely scenario sees Dallas drafting a running back in addition to pairing him with a free agent signing.

 

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