4 free agents Detroit Lions should watch in Cowboys-Buccaneers Wild Card game
1. Cowboys RB Tony Pollard
The Lions will be somewhere in the market for a running back this offseason, from a free agent replacement for No. 3 back Justin Jackson to a possible Day 1 or Day 2 pick on a future lead back and everything in-between.
Jamaal Willams, coming off a 1,000-yard season where he set the franchise record for rushing touchdowns (17), is also a free agent. And D’Andre Swift is heading into the last year of his rookie contract, with an extension hardly a lock and some peripheral conversation out there about the idea of trading him this offseason.
Those clamoring for the Cowboys to give Pollard more touches got to see it this year. He topped 1,000 yards rushing yards (1,007), averaging 5.2 yards per carry with nine touchdowns on the ground over 193 carries. As a pass catcher, he had 39 receptions for 371 yards (9.5 yards per catch) with three more scores through the air.
Among 38 running backs who had 150 or more touches this season, Pollard had the best yards per touch average.
Pollard is a big play waiting to happen, as Pro Football Focus credited him with 31 explosive rushes (sixth-best in the league) and 15 explosive receptions (in the top-15) this season. That does come with a negative play once in awhile (a 9.3 percent stuff rate, per PFF; 20th-highest among 67 backs with at least 50 carries).
Ezekiel Elliott remained the short yardage and goal line “Thunder” to Pollard’s “Lightning” this year. But Pollard is not exactly a scatback himself (listed at 6-foot tall and 209 pounds), and six of his nine rushing scores this year came in the red zone.
The Lions interest in signing Pollard would be rooted in something of an upheaval of their running back depth chart, and making him the lead back next season. The Cowboys may be willing to do that themselves too and pony up to keep him, which is an important note to this while conversation.
If it came to that, Williams would be a more ideal running mate for Pollard than Swift would be; based on skill sets. But if Williams stays or is gone in free agency, Pollard would still be an exciting upgrade over Swift as the path to a trade would be easily paved if the Lions can get Pollard. The Lions would then have someone who seems capable of being the lead back, and taking an every down role as a certified dual threat.
Others free agents for the Detroit Lions to watch in Cowboy-Bucccaneers Wild Card Game: Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz, Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys CB Anthony Brown, Buccaneers CB Sean Murphy-Bunting