The emergence of tight end Dalton Schultz is both a gift and a curse for the Dallas Cowboys. Schultz has become the Cowboys TE1 and one of the better tight ends in the league. The challenge for the Cowboys is Schultz is a free agent after the season and his play has skyrocketed his value.
Schultz is headed for a sizable raise from his $2.18 million salary that is part of bargain four-year, $2.9 million contract. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell believes the emergence of Schultz may prompt the Cowboys to release Blake Jarwin this offseason.
“I think [Chargers receiver Mike Williams] will get franchised if he has a big season. (Mike Gesicki might also fall into this boat.) The same might not be true for Schultz, who plays for a Cowboys team with big investments just about everywhere else on offense,” Barnwell detailed on November 11. “Dallas could cut Blake Jarwin to keep Schultz, who since entering the starting lineup in Week 2 of last season ranks sixth in the NFL in receiving yards among tight ends.
“Schultz got some help from playing alongside great receivers, but he also didn’t have Dak Prescott for most of that stretch. If he keeps this up, he’s looking at more than $10 million per season on the open market.”
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Jarwin Has 2 Seasons Remaining on His 4-Year, $22 Million Deal
The Cowboys would likely prefer to keep Schultz over Jarwin depending on what he commands on the open market. The challenge is Jarwin has a four-year, $22 million deal that is scheduled to earn him a $4.5 million salary in 2022. Dallas does have a potential out after this season but would still have to take a $2 million cap hit if they release Jarwin, per Spotrac.
Heading into Week 10, Schultz has 37 receptions for 424 yards and three touchdowns. Schultz is on pace to set career highs in nearly every major statistical category. Jarwin has just 10 receptions for 90 yards and two touchdowns during the same time span.
Schultz Has Played in at Least 69% of Snaps in Every Game This Season
The most telling stat is the snap count where Schultz has played in at least 69% of plays in every game this season. Most recently, Schultz has played in 95% of snaps in Week 9, 82% in Week 8 and 84% in Week 6 following the team’s bye.
Comparatively, Jarwin is averaging 50.2% of snapsin his seven appearances this season and has been much less of a focal point in the receiving game than Schultz. Jarwin sustained a season-ending torn ACL in Week 1 of 2020 and has battled injuries throughout 2021 as well. The good news is Jarwin has been able to play through the injuries for most of the season but his durability continues to be a question moving forward.
Schultz Is Among the Cowboys’ Top Free Agents in 2022
The Cowboys face some difficult decisions when free agency hits after the season as the team has a number of key players set to hit the open market. The Athletic’s Bob Sturm has Schultz among the Cowboys’ top free agents that the team needs to retain along with Randy Gregory, Cedrick Wilson, Jayron Kearse, Leighton Vander Esch and Keanu Neal. The Cowboys may not have the money to keep Schultz with the way he has played this season.
“This is your best tight end,” Sturm detailed. “That might not impress you and maybe you want to look to draft a better one, but for now, he run blocks, pass protects and catches the ball. I keep him if I can do it at a doable price. Trouble is, that might not be possible.”