3 Contracts Cowboys Must Prioritize in 2023 Offseason

Joe TanseyJanuary 25, 2023

3 Contracts Cowboys Must Prioritize in 2023 Offseason

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    SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 22: Tony Pollard #20 of the Dallas Cowboys carries the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Levi's Stadium on January 22, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    The Dallas Cowboys put themselves in a bind entering the 2023 offseason with a contract they issued in 2019.

    Ezekiel Elliott's six-year, $90 million deal set a precedent for what Tony Pollard should seek in free agency.

    A strong case could be made that Pollard is the more productive running back than Elliott, and if true, the Cowboys should do whatever it takes to keep the 25-year-old on the roster for 2023 and beyond.

    Pollard is one of the top free agents available this offseason, but if there is one thing Dallas is known for, it is shelling out loads of cash to sign its best players.

    Dallas' offensive personnel could change in 2023, even if Pollard is re-signed, with Dalton Schultz hitting free agency.

    The Cowboys unfortunately can't pay every star player on their offense, and a choice between Pollard and Schultz might have to be made.

Tony Pollard

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    SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 22: Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) runs through a hole during the NFL NFC Divisional Playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Tony Pollard is Dallas' most important impending free agent.

    Pollard outgained Ezekiel Elliott by 131 rushing yards and was a much better asset in the passing game.

    At 25, Pollard should secure a long-term contract to make sure he is set for the future, no matter what happens later.

    Pollard may not be able to command an Elliott-sized deal, but he can at least ask for a significant sum from the Cowboys because of their willingness to pay their best players.

    Dallas' recent deals for Elliott and Dak Prescott (four years, $160 million) suggest its ownership has no issues with shelling out loads of money to its stars.

    Pollard's market could take a hit because of the broken left fibula he suffered against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional Round.

    Other teams may not be willing to pay Pollard at a top rate because he will be recovering from the leg injury.

    Dallas might see that as an opportunity to re-sign Pollard to a short-term deal that allows the running back to hit the market again when he is healthier.

    The Cowboys need to prioritize Pollard in whichever capacity it prefers because he was more productive than Elliott in 2022. If the 27-year-old's game begins to fade, Dallas needs another running back to deliver top-tier production for years to come.

Dalton Schultz

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    SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 22: Dalton Schultz #86 of the Dallas Cowboys completes a pass and scores a touchdown against Dre Greenlaw #57 of the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL divisional round playoff football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium on January 22, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
    Michael Owens/Getty Images

    The Cowboys kept Dalton Schultz around on the franchise tag last offseason.

    The tight end showcased his value to the Cowboys in the team's most important contests over the last two weeks.

    Schultz caught three touchdown passes in the playoff contests against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco.

    Dallas would love to have Schultz back in the offense for 2023 and beyond, but that may be hard to manage depending on the offers he receives in the free-agent market.

    Other teams may be willing to spend more money on Schultz because of their salary-cap availability and needs at the position.

    Dallas should still make its best effort to land Schultz, but if he departs, the franchise could develop Jake Ferguson or Peyton Hendershot into the team's next starting tight end.

Terence Steele

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Terence Steele #78 of the Dallas Cowboys defends against the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium on October 30, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    A new contract for Terence Steele may be the Cowboys' best offseason investment.

    The offensive tackle was one of the best at his position in the NFL and will be coveted by many suitors on the free-agent market.

    Steele was the best protector of Dak Prescott in 2022, and the right tackle's return could be more important than the ones of Pollard and Schultz.

    Dallas needs consistent offensive line play to deal with the collection of talented pass-rushers across the other NFC East rosters.

    The 25-year-old made less than $1 million in each of his first three seasons, per Over the Cap, so he's in line for a significant pay raise for 2023.

    Dallas will not be able to afford all of its marquee free agents, but it could free up more cap space if Elliott is willing to take some sort of pay cut from the deal that will pay him over $10 million in each of the next four seasons.