After ascending to the top of the depth chart and becoming a major piece of the Dallas Cowboys offense heading into 2022, it’s possible tight end Dalton Schultz could receive a new contract this summer.
ESPN writer Jeremy Fowler reported that there’s a possibility the Cowboys sign Schultz to a long-term deal in the next two months.
Schultz was franchise tagged by Dallas this offseason, meaning the former Stanford Cardinal will account for a $10.9 million cap hit. But each party has until July to form a new deal and that number will change if each side can agree.
If no deal can be made, Schultz will be the sixth-largest salary cap hit for Dallas in 2022.
Why extending Schultz makes sense
Dallas will need pass catchers to step up in a big way this year. After trading wide receiver Amari Cooper this offseason, there will be plenty of opportunities for other players to fill his shoes and Schultz is a candidate to do so.
After Dallas selected him in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Schultz was utilized mainly for his superb blocking skills rather than his playmaking ability. He had a total of 13 receptions, 122 yards and no touchdowns in his first two seasons.
But in year three his pass catching improved and the Cowboys coaching staff noticed. He ranked third in receptions, and fourth in receiving yards and touchdowns among Cowboys players.
Schultz took another leap last season when he shattered his career highs in all the aforementioned receiving statistics. He became quarterback Dak Prescott’s third passing option behind Cooper and receiver CeeDee Lamb.
Question marks behind Schultz at tight end
After an injury-riddled 2020 and 2021, Dallas cut former starting tight end Blake Jarwin with the emergence of Schultz.
Schultz is the clear-cut number one option at the position for Dallas this season. Behind him on the depth chart are three players lacking experience, which could cause issues if Schultz’s backups are called upon to play regularly.
Dallas drafted Wisconsin tight end Jake Ferguson in the fourth round this offseason. Ferguson’s skillset is the antithesis of Schultz’s coming out of college: Ferguson can catch but is a weak blocker and Schultz was a solid blocker but a weak pass catcher. If the two can work together, there’s no reason Ferguson can’t become a more well-rounded player.
Behind Ferguson is Jeremy Sprinkle, who is going into year two as a Cowboy after spending the previous four years as a Washington Commander. Sprinkle is mainly a special teamer and blocking specialist.
In the four spot for the tight ends is Sean McKeon. The third-year player hasn’t seen much action as a pass catcher. Appearing in 23 games, McKeon only has four receptions and 27 yards.
Considering the lack of tight end depth, locking up Schultz for the long-term should be a priority for the Cowboys front office.