Dallas Cowboys Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As the start of NFL free agency approaches, the Dallas Cowboys have made a major decision.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Cowboys have opted against applying their franchise tag to running back Tony Pollard. As a result, the 26-year-old Pollard will be an unrestricted free agent who is free to sign with any team when the new league year begins on March 13.

Selected in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Memphis product originally served as Ezekiel Elliott’s primary backup and a change of pace option in the Dallas backfield. But by the 2022 season, he had become arguably the Cowboys’ top running back — so much so that Dallas was willing to cut Elliott and apply the franchise tag to Pollard ahead of the 2023 campaign.

But after rushing for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns en route to earning Pro Bowl honors while sharing a backfield with Elliott in 2022, Pollard’s 2023 campaign was considered somewhat of a disappointment. Appearing in all 17 regular-season games as the Cowboys’ lead running back, the two-time All-AAC selection rushed for 1,005 yards and six touchdowns in his first season as Dallas’ top running back.

Pollard won’t be the only notable running back to hit the open market this offseason. Like the Cowboys, the New York Giants have reportedly opted against applying their franchise tag to Saquon Barkley, while Josh Jacobs, Austin Ekeler and Derrick Henry are also slated to become free agents this offseason.

[Adam Schefter]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.