The Dallas Cowboys have to make changes on offense during the 2022 offseason, whether they want to or not.
Dallas executive Stephen Jones explained at the 2022 NFL Combine that the team expects most of its available money to go toward retaining the current group. That may be the goal, but salary cap restrictions will force owner Jerry Jones’ hand.
When zooming in on the offense, it’s even more clear that there will be changes in some form or another. Wide receiver Michael Gallup is a free agent, WR Amari Cooper continues to be the source of trade speculation and promising tight end Dalton Schultz may be franchise tagged.
Just between those three developments, it feels like something has to give, and ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky thinks it’s Cooper who should be on the outs. During NFL Live on March 1, the former Detroit Lions QB made his case.
“The Cowboys can and should trade Amari Cooper mainly because I think they’re a better team in 12 personnel,” Orlovsky said. “And I think you can trade Amari Cooper because outside of Dak Prescott when it comes to their pass game, the most important person on their offense is Dalton Schultz. If it comes down to Amari Cooper at his salary or Dalton Schultz, you should make sure that you take that money that you might be able to recoup in trade value and sign Dalton Schultz.”
It’s a stark take for sure, but one that could very well end up coming to fruition. Cooper is due a ton of money, and it may be time for Dallas to jump ship.
Cowboys Deflecting Cooper Questions
As mentioned above, Cowboys exec Stephen Jones spoke at length on the current state of affairs on the first day of the 2022 NFL Combine. One question that came up was the status of Cooper, and if the team was considering cutting or trading the receiver, or even restructuring his contract.
However, Jones didn’t have much info to offer.
“It’s too early for me to address that yet,” Jones said on March 1. “We’re continuing to have conversations. A lot of things affect that… There are some moving parts to that that we’ll have to continue to massage as we move forward.”
Jones’ words imply that all options are still on the table. Cooper is going to be a $22 million cap hit in 2022, and the Cowboys can save $16 million by trading him before March 28. Considering the team is $21.2 million over the salary cap, Dallas will need to make a decision on Cooper soon.
Schultz Rises in 2021
There may be a scenario where the Cowboys keep Cooper and Schultz, but Orlovsky’s take on keeping Schultz over Cooper isn’t without merit. After slowly working his way into a starting role, 2021 showed that Schultz has all the tools the Cowboys need at TE.
Besides being a consistent blocker, Schultz put up 808 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, both considerable improvements upon 2020’s 615 yards and four touchdowns. Further, he also improved his drop rate, going from 4.5% to 3.8% per PFR.
There’s even reason to think the Cowboys still haven’t seen the best of Schultz. Despite going into his fifth NFL season, Schultz is only 25-years-old and still has several prime years in front of him.