The Indianapolis Colts entered this offseason with needs at quarterback, offensive tackle and wide receiver. But while naming one top free agent signing for each team, CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin projected the Colts to acquire Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz.
“Tackle is a need, as is QB, of course, but assuming Indy uses the draft to address the gaping hole under center, Schultz is a logical multipurpose investment,” Benjamin wrote. “Tight end may not be in shambles, but he primarily functions as a pass-catcher.
“Still just 26, he’d theoretically take some of the pressure off Michael Pittman Jr. as an over-the-middle outlet.”
Schultz didn’t have as productive of a season during 2022 as he did in 2021. But he still recorded 57 catches for 577 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns this past season. Schultz also scored 3 touchdowns in two postseason games.
How Schultz Potentially Fits With the Colts
While Schultz wouldn’t satisfy Indianapolis’ needs at tackle and wide receiver, he can help both of those areas with his blocking and pass-catching abilities.
According to the Pro Football Focus player grades, Schultz has been an inconsistent pass blocker during his career. But he’s steadily improved as a run blocker, and he can, at times, be significantly above average in pass protection.
In 2021, PFF ranked Schultz in the Top 12 among tight ends who played at least half his team’s offensive snaps in both run and pass blocking.
Also in 2021, Schultz recorded career-highs of 78 receptions, 808 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. He didn’t repeat those totals in 2022, but Schultz has posted more than 55 catches and 550 receiving yards in each of the past three years.
The Colts haven’t had a tight end surpass 50 receptions and 550 yards in a season since Eric Ebron in 2018.
Obstacles to the Colts Signing Schultz
The biggest problem with Indianapolis bringing in Schultz is the crowded depth chart at tight end the team already possesses. Indianapolis has seven tight ends under contract for 2023, including two rookies — Jelani Woods, who led Colts tight ends with 312 receiving yards last season, and Andrew Ogletree.
The team had high hopes for Ogletree before he suffered a season-ending injury during training camp. He was a sixth-round pick last year while the Colts grabbed Woods in the third round.
Young tight end Kyle Granson and veteran Mo-Alie Cox also had roles last year. Signing Schultz would at least limit opportunities for Indianapolis’ other tight ends. There very likely would not even be enough room for one or even two of the other tight ends on the 53-man roster.
Schultz also probably will not come cheaply. Spotrac predicted his market value to be about $60.5 million on a four-year contract, giving him an average annual salary of just north of $15 million.
The Colts undoubtably have cuts to make, including the most obvious one — quarterback Matt Ryan, which will save the team more than $17 million in space. But as of February 24, the Colts only possess about $10.6 million in salary cap room.
With the team’s other needs and the salary the Cowboys tight end will likely demand, it’s hard to envision general manager Chris Ballard pursuing Schultz.
Still, it’s also hard to ignore the production Schultz would bring.