The Dallas Cowboys and starting tight end Dalton Schultz may be heading for a breakup with the playmaker set to hit free agency. The Cowboys used the franchise tag on Schultz in 2022, but the team is using this designation on Tony Pollard for this upcoming season. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported that Schultz has already turned down “a pretty solid multiyear offer” from the Cowboys but did not specify the timeline for the negotiations.
“Assuming Pollard doesn’t get a deal by Tuesday in Dallas, and with Engram tagged, Dalton Schultz will avoid being tagged and hit the market as the top available tight end,” Breer wrote on March 6, 2023. “He’s already turned down a pretty solid multiyear offer from the Cowboys.”
Pro Football Focus has Schultz as the No. 20 ranked available free agent and top rated tight end. Schultz is expected to have multiple suitors, and the Cowboys will need to work out a long-term deal to keep the playmaker in Big D with the franchise tag now off the table.
The Cowboys Are Predicted to Take Utah TE Dalton Kincaid at No. 26
With Schultz’s future in doubt, Dallas is increasingly being linked to some of the top tight end prospects in the upcoming draft. ESPN’s Mel Kiper and The Athletic’s Dane Brugler both have the Cowboys replacing one Dalton for another, predicting the team will take Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid at No. 26 in their latest mock drafts.
According to The Athletic’s Jon Machota, the Cowboys are not interested “in getting into a bidding war” for Schultz with growing buzz that the team could instead address the position as soon as the first round. Spotrac projects Schultz’s market value to be a four-year, $60.5 million contract, much higher than the $10.9 million salary the tight end played on last season.
“Drafting a tight end at No. 26 is much more in play now than I thought when I left for Indianapolis,” Machota wrote on March 8. “It’s arguably the deepest position group in this draft class, and the Cowboys are intrigued. Dalton Schultz has been a very productive tight end for Dallas over the last three seasons, averaging 66 receptions, 667 yards and 5.6 touchdowns per year. But he is an unrestricted free agent after playing under the franchise tag last season, and it doesn’t sound like the Cowboys are interested in getting into a bidding war for his services.”
Will the Cowboys Cut Ezekiel Elliott?
With the Cowboys slated to pay Pollard more than $10 million next season, Dallas is at a breaking point with Ezekiel Elliott who has a $10.9 million salary for 2023. Despite the team’s public praise of Elliott, the Cowboys could release the running back if the star does not agree to a significant pay cut.
Elliott still has four seasons remaining on a $90 million contract, a financial deal well above the current market value for a running back. ESPN’s Todd Archer pointed to former stars DeMarcus Ware and Dez Bryant, who were both released, as potential precedent for Elliott’s future.
“Elliott is set to count $16.4 million against the salary cap with a nonguaranteed $10.4 million base salary,” Archer noted on March 6. “The Cowboys could look for Elliott to take a significant pay cut, but it’s worth pointing out they did not make pay-cut offers to linebacker DeMarcus Ware and receiver Dez Bryant before releasing both players.”