NFL Insider Calls Out Cowboys’ Major Mistake in Dalton Schultz Contract Talks

Dalton Schultz

Getty Dalton Schultz of the Dallas Cowboys catches the ball during a game.

The Dallas Cowboys are currently navigating a situation involving tight end Dalton Schultz and his upcoming NFL contract.

Dallas franchise-tagged Schultz earlier in the spring, and the expectation has been that the Cowboys would sign the tight end to a new long-term deal. However, no contract has materialized and Schultz has made it known he’s not happy by not attending optional practices.

While Dallas still has plenty of time to get a deal done, Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox is pointing out that the Cowboys have already made a crucial mistake by waiting with Schultz: the price has gone up thanks to the Cleveland Browns.

“The only real fault to find with these two is Dallas’ decision to franchise-tag Schultz instead of working out an extension,” Knox wrote on June 13. “The Browns franchise-tagged tight end David Njoku and then gave him a monster four-year, $54.8 million extension. Schultz has been far more productive than Njoku over the past two seasons, so the latter’s deal now becomes the floor for a Schultz extension.”

As Knox states, Schultz’s NFL stock should be higher than Njoku’s after his 2021 season, but the Browns paying Njoku a large average salary per year means Schultz will have to come at a premium.

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Schultz Compared to Browns Tight End

Pro Football Reference shows Njoku has an extra year of experience and stats in the league, but he’s only has 209 receiving yards more than Schultz. Further, Schultz had more receiving yards in 2021 (808) than Njoku has had over his past three seasons (729.)

Njoku’s best season came back in 2018, when the former Miami Hurricane went for 639 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Due to injury and other offensive issues in Cleveland, the 25-year-old has played just 33 games in the past three years.

Meanwhile, Schultz posted a 615-yard season in 2020 before his breakout year in 2021. Njoku certainly still has ability and the respect of a high-level tight end in the NFL, but it’s clear the momentum is in Schultz’s favor, especially considering that Schultz has had 12 touchdowns in the past two years, while Njoku has 15 career TDs.

Cowboys’ Decision

Njoku getting an average $13.7 million a year on his contract not only affects the Cowboys, but any NFL team that wants to sign or re-sign a tight end. That being said, a deal close to Njoku’s would not be a major commitment for Dallas.

Under the franchise tag, Schultz will make $10.93 million in 2022 according to Spotrac. $13.7 million is only $2.8 million more per season, which is about 1.25% of the 2022 cap. In terms of the grand scheme of the salary cap, it’s really not that much.

But Dallas has proven to be cautious, if not outright stingy with how they pay certain players. Of course, quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott got huge contracts, but the team also let Amari Cooper walk despite making a very average salary for a top receiver in the NFL.

It comes down to if the Cowboys believe they’ve already seen the best of Schultz. If they have, expect the tight end to ride the franchise tag this season before finally getting his second NFL contract in 2023.

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