The Dallas Cowboys went into the playoffs this season with huge aspirations. After a collapse by the Philadelphia Eagles, they were able to win the NFC East for the second time in three years. Dallas has been great in the regular season under Mike McCarthy, but they have had three disappointing endings. This year's exit was especially painful as the Green Bay Packers punched them in the mouth and never stopped the pounding.
The Cowboys have 16 players hitting free agency this offseason. Weirdly, they only have five NFL Draft picks, and two of them are seventh-round picks. Some of their free agents play crucial roles, while many others are bit players on the team. Let's focus on the three biggest names on the list.
Some might assume the Cowboys and their Jerry Jones-led management will try to bring back everyone they can, but they are currently working with $19 million in overages on the salary cap. Hard decisions are coming in Dallas, and it starts with a position that was supposed to be set. It looks like the Cowboys are moving on from a star running back for the second offseason in a row.
Tony Pollard, RB; Replaced By: Rico Dowdle and Trey Benson
The Cowboys moved on from Ezekiel Elliott last offseason because they wanted to give the entire backfield to Tony Pollard. The results were mixed. Pollard was fine, but he was supposed to be great. He was given the franchise tag last offseason, and he and the Cowboys failed to come to a long-term agreement. Now, he's heading to free agency, and we can't see the Cowboys crying over the loss.
Who is going to replace Pollard's production? We've learned that running backs are a dime a dozen unless you have someone who is special. The Cowboys could see a special player fall in their lap at the draft. Trey Benson was amazing in 2022 for Florida State, and he was great last season for the once-undefeated Seminoles.
Benson did have a major knee injury at his first college stop of Oregon, but that was in 2020. At this point, we're four years removed from that injury. Plus, the Cowboys are getting Benson in the second or third round. They are going for the value here, and Benson provides that.
Also, the Cowboys saw positive results from Rico Dowdle. He had 12 carries in a game twice this season, and he scored in both games. When he had volume, he delivered. He wasn't good enough to be given the starting job, but he could split carries with a special rookie. It's not like Pollard is too locked into the Cowboys anyway.