Dallas Cowboys fans spent all of 2022 clamoring for running back Tony Pollard to be the lead back instead of 2016 fourth overall pick Ezekiel Elliott.

There was great reason for that desire, too, given Pollard's 5.9 yards per touch led the NFL among the 30 players with 200 or more touches that year. Fast forward to 2023, Elliott becomes a New England Patriot and Pollard is anointed the Cowboys' RB1. The one problem was Pollard suffered a broken fibula in the 2022 NFC Divisional Round playoff game at the San Francisco 49ers. He still ended up playing all 17 regular season games in 2023 and in the Cowboys' 2023 NFC Wild Card Round loss against the Green Bay Packers, but he was still clearly affected by the injury last season as his numbers below indicate. 

Tony Pollard's last two seasons





Rush Yards






Rush TD






Scrimmage Yards1,3781,316
Scrimmage Yards/Touch5.9*4.3**
Scrimmage TD126

* Led NFL

** 27th among 34 players with 200+ touches

However, Pollard had more explosion when finishing runs the back half of the season with his yards after contact per carry increasing to 3.2 from Weeks 11-18 after averaging 2.7 yards before contract per carry from Weeks 1-10. It was quite clear Week 11 at the Panthers was his turning point where he felt a little bit back to his old self when he ripped off a punishing 21-yard touchdown run. 

Dallas franchise-tagged Pollard for a fully-guaranteed salary of $10.1 million in 2023, but this offseason, the Cowboys will allow him to test the open market. They would like him to return to the team in 2024, albeit for what they deem to be the right price. 

"Tony had a great year last year. He's another one of those guys, the type of player you want around," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Tuesday, per, at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "But that will ultimately boil down to the business side of things in terms of what we can do for Tony."    

The 26-year-old Pro Bowl running back, who turns 27 on April 30,  will have options, so let's take a look at a few potential landing spots plus a prediction for where Pollard could end up. 

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are a natural landing spot for Pollard since he's played all five seasons of his career in Dallas since they chose him in the fourth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Playing with the NFL's reigning passing touchdowns leader (quarterback Dak Prescott) and the league's receptions leader in 2023 (wide receiver CeeDee Lamb) creates favorable light boxes for running backs: Only 16% of Dallas' team rushing attempts came with eight or more defenders in the box near the line scrimmage, the 10th-lowest rate in the NFL. 

Sounds like a great spot for a running back to call home.

Houston Texans

Houston's young core led by 2023 Offensive Rookie of the Year quarterback C.J. Stroud and 2023 Defensive Rookie of the Year defensive end Will Anderson Jr. is clear for takeoff. The Texans won the AFC South and a playoff game in their top-three pick duo's first season in the NFL. The Texans top two receivers, Nico Collins and Tank Dell, are also on rookie deals.

That means the Texans have money to spend: their $66.3 million in effective cap space ranks as the fifth-most in the NFL, according to Houston also has two of their top three running backs hitting free agency as well in Devin Singletary and Dare Ogunbowale. Pollard sharing a backfield with Dameon Pierce, a player who wasn't involved in the passing game a year ago (101 yards on 13 catches), provides him with plenty of opportunities for touches. 

Offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, a disciple of San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, learned how to be a play-caller under one of the league's top play-callers who highly values the running game. The Texans would make a lot of sense for Pollard for a variety of reasons. 

Philadelphia Eagles

Like the Cowboys, the Eagles are also having their 2023 starting running back test the open market in D'Andre Swift. Philadelphia also has a face familiar to Pollard running their offense in 2024 in new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Moore called plays in Dallas for the first four years of Pollard's career from 2019-2022. The Eagles have regularly been a strong rushing team behind their stout offensive line, and that was the case in 2023: they ranked eighth in the league in rushing yards per game (128.8) and ranked seventh in rushing expected points added per game (0.38). 

Philly has $37.4 million in effective cap space this offseason, the 11th-most in the NFL. The Eagles typically don't hand out multi-year free agent deals to running backs, but this could be a nice spot for Pollard to rebuild his value a full year removed from the fibula injury. 


Pollard signs a contract for his market value (projected by Spotrac), a two-year, $13.1 million deal (just over $6.5 in average annual value), with the Houston Texans. Jones definitely has a clear line in the sand for how much the Cowboys would like to spend to retain him, and Pollard may not appreciate that figure.

Between the cap room Houston possesses, plus the opportunity for major touches for a playoff contender, it's an attractive spot for a running back. The Texans signed an offensive player the Cowboys decided to let walk a year ago in tight end Dalton Schultz. This offseason, Houston signs Pollard to move a few hours south.