Cowboys’ $11 Million Star Could Be Poached by Division Rival: Analyst

Dak Prescott

Getty The Cowboys could allow tight end Dalton Schultz to walk in free agency.

A notable Dallas Cowboys star could be the perfect fit for a familiar division rival.

According to David Kenyon of Bleacher Report, Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz could land with the Washington Commanders. Schultz will be a free agent this offseason after signing the franchise tag for slightly under $11 million before the 2022 season. The 26-year-old will be seeking a long-term deal, and Dallas’ lack of salary cap space could be a reason why Schultz walks.

“Knowing the constraints of the Dallas Cowboys’ cap situation, Dalton Schultz is a likely candidate to move elsewhere,” wrote Kenyon.

Kenyon argues that the Commanders make sense for Schultz, citing a need for offensive weapons if Washington moves forward with quarterback Sam Howell, who just completed his rookie season.

“Washington has minimal cap space ($6.6 million), but quarterback Carson Wentz should be released,” wrote Kenyon. “Starting tight end Logan Thomas is also a cut candidate, and their departures would free space for the Commanders to target Schultz and bolster its promising pass-catching group. Adding a high-dollar quarterback would take the organization out of mix for Schultz. But if Washington actually turns to Sam Howell, surrounding the second-year QB with weapons would be a wise decision.”

Dalton Schultz Is 1 of Dak Prescott’s Favorite Weapons

Schultz started out the 2022 season slow with Cooper Rush at quarterback but quickly bounced back upon Dak Prescott’s return in Week 7. As noted by Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger, Schultz ranked as one of the elite tight ends in the NFL between Weeks 7 and 12.

“From Week 7 to Week 12, his 83.5 grade ranked third among tight ends, including a 76.8 receiving grade and an 82.5 run-blocking grade to go along with 2.11 yards per route run (fourth), 230 receiving yards (fifth), three contested catches (tied fourth) and three touchdowns (fifth),” wrote Spielberger.

The veteran tight end posted 57 receptions for 577 yards and five touchdowns during the 2022 season. While those numbers weren’t quite as good as what he produced during the 2021 season — 78 catches for 808 yards and eight touchdowns — they still ranked among the top tight ends in the league. Schultz ranked within the top 10 in receiving yards and touchdowns among tight ends.

Schultz Projected to Earn Elite Tight End Money

As PFF notes, Schultz’s contract is projected to be $58 million ($14.5 million per year) for $36 million across four years. That would make Schultz the third-highest paid tight end in the league.

If those projections come to be true, it’s hard to envision the Cowboys bringing back Schultz. The reliable tight end may be one of Prescott’s favorite weapons, but it’s also clear Dallas has prepared for life without Schultz by featuring Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot — rookie tight ends in 2022 — frequently in the offense.

Ferguson caught 19 of his 22 targets (86.4% catch rate) and appeared in 40% of the offensive snaps. Meanwhile, Hendershot caught 11 passes while playing in 26% of the offensive snaps. In other words, these two young tight ends could very well fill the void if Schultz leaves.

Considering the Cowboys have bigger needs — re-signing running back Tony Pollard, for example — it’s very plausible Schultz leaves Dallas. Signing with the Commanders — who are in desperate need of a reliable tight end due to Logan Thomas’ recent injury issues and lack of production — would certainly be on the table for Schultz.

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