The Dallas Cowboys are figuring out how to proceed at the tight end position after Dalton Schultz’s recent holdout due to a lack of progress on a contract.
The 25-year-old is set to make at least $10.93 million thanks to the franchise tag in 2022, as Heavy has previously covered. However, Schultz made it clear he wanted a long-term contract by skipping optional practices.
While Dallas appears to be working towards a new deal with Schultz, their other option is to not pay Schultz and began prepping for a future without him. The team just drafted Jake Ferguson in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft, but the Cowboys could use another proven veteran should things get ugly in negotiations with Schultz.
That’s where Kyle Rudolph enters into the equation. The former New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings tight end is entering his 12th season in the league and has two Pro Bowl honors to his name.
At 32, Rudolph is past his athletic prime but the numbers show that he is still very much capable of contributing in an offense. If the price is right for the Cowboys, pursuing the former Viking would make a lot of sense.
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Rudolph Did It All With Vikings, Giants
Coming out of college, Rudolph had built an impressive reputation at Notre Dame for being a complete tight end. Being 6’6″ certainly helped, as Rudolph has been a living mismatch most of his football career.
After the Vikings drafted Rudolph in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft, he spent the next decade in purple and being a key cog in the team’s offense. He earned two Pro Bowl nods, the first coming in 2012 when he brought down nine touchdowns and nearly 500 receiving yards according to Pro Sports Reference. The second honor arrived in 2017, after a eight-touchdown season and 532 receiving yards.
After 10 seasons in Minnesota, Rudolph and the Vikings parted ways. The Giants paid him $7 million in 2021 to become a vital aspect of their offense, but the New York offense struggled. Rudolph would end the season with 293 receiving yards and one touchdown.
How Cowboys Can Add Rudolph
Besides Ferguson and Schultz, the Cowboys also have tight end Jeremy Sprinkle on the roster. However, Sprinkle was given a “prove-it” deal that is set to pay him just north of $1 million, a sign that he’s not viewed as a certain factor or improvement this season,
Rudolph’s track record speaks for itself, and his stock has never been lower. With $20 million in cap space per Spotrac, the Cowboys have the means to sign Rudolph to an affordable deal, maybe half of his salary with the Giants.
It’s an opportunity for Rudolph to join a legitimately competitive team and show he can still be a problem for opposing defenses. The addition of a player like Rudolph puts pressure on Schultz to compete and perform, unlike someone like Sprinkle who is firstly making sure he cracks the final 53-man roster.
The Cowboys need to prepare for all possible outcomes, and the further the team goes along without a deal for Schultz, the sooner they need to add another option.