Dalton Schultz Leaves Cowboys OTAs As New Contract Hangs In The Balance

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Just a few weeks ago it was reported that Dalton Schultz receiving a long-term deal was ‘on the table’.

Negotiations have seemingly gone south as earlier this week, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Schultz will no longer participate in Dallas’ voluntary organized team activities.

This isn’t a violation of team rules because as the name suggests, these workouts aren’t mandatory. But if Schultz doesn’t report back for the Cowboys mandatory minicamp June 14-16, he will begin accruing fines.

The tight end is entering his fifth pro season under the franchise tag which has him slated to earn $10.9 million. This would rank him as the seventh-largest salary cap hit for the Cowboys.

Schultz will have to play under the tag if each side can’t strike a new deal by July 15th.

Why Schultz left voluntary OTAs

About two weeks ago, Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku signed a four-year, $56.75 million deal to stay with the team and $28 million of which is guaranteed.

It’s possible Schultz and his agent, Steve Caric, saw those numbers and demanded equal or higher pay. 

Based on the stats, they’re within reason as Schultz had a much better 2021 season than Njoku. But that doesn’t mean Jerry Jones and the Cowboys front office value Schultz the way the Browns value its tight end.

How Schultz could’ve better negotiated

Not long after Dallas placed the franchise tag on the former Stanford Cardinal, Schultz signed it to play at least one more season in Dallas.

If Schultz and Caric wanted a long-term deal all along, Schultz should have held out and not signed the franchise tag. Instead, Schultz signed on the dotted line and forfeited all leverage he had to get a long-term contract.

Schultz’s value to the Cowboys

The 2022 season will be very telling for the Cowboys offense. With the departure of Amari Cooper to the Browns, time will tell which pass catchers step up and become viable options for Dak Prescott.

For wide receivers, the pecking order goes as follows: CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and the third spot will be a battle between veteran James Washington and rookie Jalen Tolbert. But Gallup is coming off a late-season torn ACL in 2021 and it’s unclear if he’ll be ready for week one.

Behind Schultz in the tight end room is rookie Jake Ferguson, who Dallas just selected in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft. The former Wisconsin Badger was more known for pass catching than blocking in four seasons as a Badger.

If Schultz plays this season under the franchise tag and Ferguson steps up, it could put Schultz’s future in Dallas in jeopardy.

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