Ex-Pro Bowler Bolted Cowboys for ‘The Wrong Team,’ Analyst Says

It was not a huge surprise that Cowboys star running back Tony Pollard landed elsewhere here in the 2024 offseason, not after a year in which he largely disappointed after taking over as the lone occupant of the No. 1 running back slot with the departure of Ezekiel Elliott a year ago.

Cowboys ex-RB Tony Pollard (right), who signed with the Titans this offseason

Big things were expected from Pollard, but his rehab from a broken leg slowed him early and his inability to bull his way for short-yardage gains was a limitation that hung over the offense all season. Pollard is more of an upright runner who needs space to use his top-end speed, but he often did not get that last year in Dallas.

The Cowboys showed little interest in re-signing him this offseason, and Pollard was one of the first players to bolt his old team on this year’s free-agent market, agreeing to a deal with the Titans on March 11, two days before free agency officially opened.

Pollard did fairly well financially, with a three-year, $22 million contract. But for analyst Alex Kay of Bleacher Report, the deal was a big mistake.

Cowboys Were Disappointed in Run Game

In a post titled, “2024 NFL Free Agents Who Signed With the Wrong Team,” at B/R, Kay wrote that Pollard is one of the players who would come to regret his choice this offseason. After losing franchise stalwart Derrick Henry, the Titans made a pair of splashy moves to boost the offense, bringing in star receiver Calvin Ridley in addition to Pollard.

But Pollard is not an ideal fit.

“The Dallas Cowboys gave Tony Pollard a chance to be the lone star in their backfield last season. He failed to capitalize on the promotion to RB1, though, and entered free agency following a relatively disappointing run as a starter,” Kay wrote.

He continued: “The move doesn’t make a ton of sense for either party. Pollard has made it clear he’s best utilized in a platoon approach. He’s a shifty, dynamic back who thrives in change-of-pace and pass-catching situations and had his best years complementing a more bruising, downhill back in Ezekiel Elliott.”

Now, though, Pollard will be paired with a similar back, Tyjae Spears, a third-round pick last year who rushed for 453 yards on 100 carries.

“New Tennessee head coach Brian Callahan will have his work cut out attempting to sort out an equitable timeshare for this backfield pairing. There’s a decent chance the waters are further muddied if the Titans come away from the 2024 draft with a much-needed power back to round out the platoon,” Kay wrote.

Tony Pollard Took Time to Get Healthy

Pollard logged 1,005 yards last season, which was good for 12th in the NFL and only two yards off 2022’s total (1,007). But he did so on 252 carries, and his average of 4.0 yards per carry was well off the 2022 mark, 5.2 yards per rush.

Pollard earned a Pro Bowl spot in 2022. Perhaps he could return to that form in Tennessee, if he is healthy.

Pollard said last season that he did not feel comfortable until the Panthers game in Week 10, when he rushed for 61 yards on 12 carries and scored a touchdown for the first time since Week 1. He suffered the fibula injury last January in the playoffs, and had surgery to fix the broken bone.

The down year cost him a long-term slot in Dallas. Maybe he can bounce back with the Titans, though.

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