Dallas Cowboys: Dalton Schultz might be playing himself out of Dallas

Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you’ve probably noticed the ascension of certain fourth-year tight end this season, Dalton Schultz. Schultz, the Dallas Cowboys 2018 fourth round draft pick out of Stanford, has had one heck of start this season.

In just four games, Schultz has collected 20 receptions on 23 targets for 201 yards . He’s done so on a fairly loaded Dallas roster, sharing time with another explosive tight end, Blake Jarwin. What he’s achieving is downright spectacular when you really think about it.

Being a contract year for Schultz, it couldn’t be happening at a better time. Last season was his coming out party and this season he’s about to blow 2020 out of the water. I don’t have to tell you, stacking career year on top of career year is a great way to cash-in in free agency.

Dalton Schultz may be playing so well this year the Dallas Cowboys won’t be able to re-sign him.

In true, “this is why we can’t have nice things” fashion, Dalton may be playing too well. If things continue on their pace, Schultz is going to be in high demand this offseason. Last offseason Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry pulled in contracts worth $50 million and $37.5 million, respectively ($12.5M AAV). And that happened in a COVID-induced economic downturn. Imagine what a top TE like Schultz will demand in 2022 when more of the TV money hits and teams will have their full stadium revenue back on the books.

Currently rated as Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 TE in the league, Schultz is winning in multiple ways. He’s a strong blocker and savvy route runner. He’s not explosive after the catch but he ain’t Jason Witten-slow either. Schultz has enough shimmy and shake to his game he can collect some extra yards in the open field.  You may be surprised to know, of his 201 total receiving yards, 127 of it is YAC (yards after the catch).


Schultz is the kind of do-it-all TE balanced teams like Dallas look for in a TE1. Fellow TE, Blake Jarwin, is clearly the more explosive pass-catching option, but he’s not the blocker Schultz is. And for as good as Jarwin is up the seam, he doesn’t have Schultz’s knack for finding soft spots in zone. It’s an underrated trait that has helped the Dallas Cowboys offense tremendously this year.

Dalton Schultz is a big reason why the Cowboys offense is so dang successful this season. When opponents pull back their safeties to take CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper away, Schultz get freed to work underneath. That’s when he’s having his most success. His reliability keeps Dak Prescott patient and the ball moving. Granted, he had a tough time holding onto the ball against Carolina the other day, and you can bet opponents are taking notice and will be targeting him throughout the season. But aside from that, there haven’t been any holes in Dalton’s game.

Can the Dallas Cowboys afford to re-sign Dalton Schultz?

Even without knowing what the final cap number will be, the answer is “yes.” The cap is highly malleable and anyone can sign anyone if they want to bad enough. You can kick the money so far down the road, it doesn’t even come back to bite you like it once did. So yeah, the Cowboys can afford him.

But Stephen Jones doesn’t like to spend money if he doesn’t have to. He’s repeatedly demonstrated he’d rather not push the limits of the cap and often uses it as an excuse as to why he’s so often inactive in free agency.

There’s also the matter of the defense. Dallas’ offense accounts for the vast majority of the team’s payroll right now. Hence the dominant offense and suspect defense. The Dallas Cowboys want to change that and start investing in the defense so both can be somewhat formidable. So thoughts of investing MORE money on offense this offseason don’t really fit the Cowboys long-term plans.

This is why Connor Williams and Michael Gallup will both likely leave as well. They are going to cost too much to keep around. For the sake of balance, if Dallas is going to sign any veteran player, it should probably be on the defensive side of the ball.

Dallas could opt to cut Blake Jarwin in order to reallocate the tight end money. But cutting Jarwin will only free $4.25 million and cost $2M in dead money. Based on the salaries shown above, Schultz  will demand a heckuva lot more than that.

At this point there’s no use worrying too much over something we can’t control. Dalton Schultz playing too good is a good problem to have. There’s also comfort in knowing the Cowboys have a reputation for always keeping their favorite players around. If Stephen and Jerry want to get it done – they will.

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So enjoy the ride Cowboys Nation. Dalton Schultz is having another career year and that’s a good thing. We’ll worry about next season later.