The Dallas Cowboys lost an offensive weapon yesterday as Dalton Schultz inked a one-year, $9 million deal with the Houston Texans. So where will the Cowboys turn to replace Schultz’s production?
The writing was on the wall for Schultz to be packing his bags and leaving Big D. He and the team tried negotiating a new deal last offseason, but discussions didn’t progress and Schultz played the 2022 season on the franchise tag.
When no new deal was made, it became more than likely that last season would be Schultz’s last with the star on his helmet. The Cowboys could have applied the franchise tag to Schultz again this offseason, but the move would’ve cost the team $13 million.
Schultz Exceeded All Expectations In Big D
The Cowboys used their 4th round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to select Schultz out of Stanford. Many mid-round picks don’t make it out of training camp, let alone stay with the same team for five seasons.
The 26-year-old didn’t start much in 2018 and 2019. But in the previous three seasons, he started 44 games. Schultz set career-highs in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2021.
His 2022 campaign took a downturn due to some injuries sidelining him for two games. But Schultz still recorded 57 catches, 577 yards and five touchdowns; all of which ranked second in a Cowboys offense that lacked pass catchers.
Why Didn’t The Cowboys Re-Sign Schultz?
There are a few reasons why the Cowboys may not have been eager to bring Dalton back. The first being that he could just be an above, or slightly above, average player that benefits from Dallas’ offensive scheme.
Even if that is the case, Schultz was a top option for Dak Prescott last season. Losing him takes away a player Prescott clearly built chemistry with, and often looked to in the red zone.
But Cowboys executives clearly feel good about the players waiting in the wings to replace Schultz. Plus, the team has picks in every round of the 2023 NFL Draft should they feel inclined to add more tight end depth.
Jake Ferguson Time In Big D
To fill Schultz’s shoes, Dallas will rely on Jake Ferguson who had 19 receptions, 174 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie in 2022. Not overly impressive numbers, but Ferguson was only on the field for 40% of the Cowboys offensive snaps.
The 24-year-old displayed lots of athleticism last season, like on this play:
Schultz’s workload will also be distributed to fellow second-year player Peyton Hendershot, who had 11 catches, 103 yards and two touchdowns in 2022. Hendershot only saw 26% of last season’s snaps, but still flashed playmaking ability in his limited playing time.
Dallas clearly has confidence in these young tight ends. And if it’s true that any capable pass catching tight end can be plugged into the offensive scheme and be productive, then the Cowboys should be in good shape because both showed positive traits in their rookie campaigns.