The price for the top NFL tight ends is rising which is bad news for the Dallas Cowboys as they attempt to sign Dalton Schultz to a long-term deal. The Cowboys placed the franchise tag on Schultz earlier this offseason which gives the playmaker a $10.9 salary for 2022, a sizable raise from his four-year, $2.9 million rookie deal.
Dallas can still reach a long-term contract extension with Schultz which would mean the tight end would not play on the franchise tag this season if the two sides come to an agreement this summer. As things stand now, Schultz will be a free agent in 2023, but the Cowboys could also once again use the franchise tag to retain the star tight end, a far from ideal solution for Dallas. The Browns just signed tight end David Njoku to a four-year, $56.75 million contract extension, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, a deal that could impact Schultz’s new deal.
Schultz topped Njoku in nearly every major statistical category and is likely to command an even bigger contract. Bleacher Report’s Paul Kasabian projects that Schultz will ultimately sign a four-year, $64 million contract with the Cowboys.
“Still, Schultz, 25, has proved to be a better offensive weapon, and any contract talk should start with Njoku’s deal as the baseline,” Kasabian wrote on May 27. “The gold standard for tight ends is Kittle’s five-year, $75 million contract ($30 million guaranteed). Schultz isn’t in the three-time Pro Bowler’s tier, but he deserves a contract that breaks $60 million in total value after being one of the key pass-catching weapons on the NFL’s top-scoring offense last year.
“The best guess for a Schultz deal: four years, $64 million, $30 million guaranteed.”
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Schultz on Future: ‘I Let My Agent Kind of Handle All That Business’
Schultz is coming off a career year for the Cowboys posting 78 receptions for 808 yards and eight touchdowns during his 17 appearances in 2021. By comparison, Njoku had 36 catches for 475 yards and four touchdowns for the Browns last season. Schultz does not appear concerned about his future with the Cowboys, noting that he plans to, “let my agent kind of handle all that.”
“I mean, again dude, I let my agent kind of handle all that business, and right now I’m just focused on the OTAs, man,” Schultz told reporters on May 26.
Schultz previously expressed his desire to remain with the Cowboys, but Dallas will need to be willing to spend if they hope to keep the tight end past this upcoming season.
The Cowboys Drafted Ferguson as Insurance Behind Schultz
The Cowboys selected Wisconsin tight end Jake Ferguson in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft with the No. 129 pick, providing a bit of insurance behind Schultz. It is in no way an indication that the Cowboys want to move on from Schultz as Dallas is thin at the position after releasing Blake Jarwin in March. Ferguson believes he can learn a lot from playing in Dallas alongside Schultz.
“Just watching him and especially all the other tight ends that have been through here, they’re all smooth,” Ferguson told the Cowboys website on May 18. “They’re not the fastest guys, they’re not the strongest guys, but they’re smooth, and smooth is fast and fast is smooth. You watch those guys, they’re smart, they know where the holes are in the defense, they know what to do in the trenches, their technique is there. So just being able to try to perfect my craft and get to that level is something that I really pride myself on and really try to get to.”
“I’ve got to work to get to those points to even be considered with the guys that have been through here – Dalton Schultz, I look up to those guys, Jason Witten – some of those absolute ballers.”