Top running backs Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard receive franchise tags
Two running backs coming off career seasons were designated as franchise players by their respective teams on Monday, as the Las Vegas Raiders applied the tag to Josh Jacobs and the Dallas Cowboys did the same with Tony Pollard.
The move enables both teams to negotiate with their respective players, both of whom would have been unrestricted free agents, towards long-term contracts up until July 15. Jacobs and Pollard would earn $10.1million in 2023 if a deal is not reached and they play under the tender offer.
Jacobs became the first Raider to lead the NFL in rushing yards since Hall of Famer Marcus Allen in 1985 when he compiled 1,653 this past season. The 25-year-old added 12 touchdowns and 400 receiving yards on 53 catches to earn first team All-Pro honours.
The four-year veteran has publicly stated his desire to re-sign with the Raiders, though he told The Athletic during the week of the Pro Bowl he has no interest in playing under the tag.
"Oooh, hero turned villain, man," he said when asked what his response would be to receiving the franchise tender.
"This is where I want to be. I feel like I've left my mark on this organisation. With the guys in the locker room – obviously, it's going to be shaken up next year – but I feel like this is home. For me, this is where I want to be, but I'm not going to discredit myself trying to be here, either. So, it's just got to make sense."
Pollard emerged as the Cowboys’ best running back and earned his first Pro Bowl nod with an outstanding 2022 campaign in which he rushed for 1,007 yards and scored 12 total touchdowns. His 5.22 yards per rush attempt ranked second in the NFL among players with at least 175 carries.
The 25-year-old is recovering from a broken left leg and high-ankle sprain he sustained in Dallas’ playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers in January, but is expected to be recovered in time for the start of next season.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters at the recent scouting combine in Indianapolis that the team was planning on using the tag on Pollard in hopes of working out a multi-year agreement.
"I really don’t want to say it’s a done thing because as these things come and go, you don’t know where you are until the deadline comes and goes," Jones said Friday. "But right now, certainly Tony is a big part of our plans."
A long-term deal with Pollard could impact the future of Cowboys longtime running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is scheduled to count $16.72m against the salary cap this season. The three-time Pro Bowler could be asked to take a pay cut to remain with the team or may be a candidate to be released.
Jacobs and Pollard are two of four players who have received the franchise tag ahead of Tuesday's deadline, along with Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Evan Engram and Washington Commanders defensive tackle Daron Payne.