Tony Pollard had his best season in the NFL in 2022. He put up career highs in nearly every major statistical category.
All the while, Pollard led the Dallas Cowboys in rushing this last season.
“This is the guy you expect a regression season for,” I hear you typing. The easy answer is yes. However, there should be an explanation as to why.
That said, there are reasons why he could have a regression. So, let’s start discussing those reasons.
Tony Pollard enters free agency
Similar to Devin Singletary in the last episode, Pollard enters free agency this offseason.
The difference between the two players is that Pollard does not need 70% of an offense’s total snap share. He was the eighth-best running back with around 50% of the Cowboys’ snaps.
That said, Pollard does need a proper offensive scheme and a good offensive line to thrive under.
The Cowboys have a decision to make on Pollard. He likely commands a hefty contract in free agency due to his 2022 performance. Dallas, however, does not have a ton of cap space. In fact, the team is $7 million over the salary cap at the time of writing this, per spotrac.
Tony Pollard could receive the franchise tag
That leaves the franchise tag available for the team to use, but that likely results in the team losing its top tight end, Dalton Schultz.
Both players are due for big contracts that the Cowboys cannot afford at this juncture. That means one of them likely leaves in the offseason.
We know what Schultz is capable of, but the same cannot be said of Pollard. Yes, he had a career year. However, something happened at the end of it.
Pollard fractured his fibula in the Divisional game against the 49ers.
Tony Pollard faces a lengthy recovery process
Pollard will miss three months of action. Obviously, there are no games within these next three months; however, it affects his market.
Teams will have no idea how Pollard is progressing through his injury. The league could be low on him, given the nature of the injury and that Pollard plays running back.
While this is pertinent to his contract negotiations, the injury could impact Pollard when he returns.
The injury could hinder his ability to cut and make moves to make defenders miss. Perhaps he doesn’t have the same burst he once had.
The fact of the matter is Pollard is a massive question mark due to his season-ending injury. The worst part is there is no way to tell if he is struggling with the lasting effects of it until the public gets to see him in training camp and preseason, assuming the three-month time frame is correct.
As a result, he finds himself on the list of regression candidates almost strictly based on that principle. He had a phenomenal season that left little doubt in the minds of Pollard’s doubters that he is a good running back. He finished as the eighth-best one in fantasy, after all.
However, the way it ended left his ability a big red flag that, unfortunately, we will not know about until much later on in the offseason.
Derek Carr Mic'd up vs the Colts.
3:22 is where he breaks his fibula. Ugh So Brutal. https://t.co/uTlfVhyJcR
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) December 29, 2016
Derek Carr was an MVP candidate before he broke his fibula in 2016. Afterward, Carr was still a good quarterback; however, he never reached the same heights before his injury. The same can be said of Odell Beckham and many others who sustained a fibula injury.
Matter of factly speaking, we probably will not be able to say anything with certainty until he passes the eye test in the preseason, wherever he may end up.
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