FRISCO, Texas – It’s hard to think that Dalton Schultz is going to miss the last week of voluntary workouts or go on strike during spring training because he’s always been a hard worker and a dutiful all the way around.
But more difficult to believe that the Cowboys are willing to pay him an exorbitant multiyear contract. The fourth-round draft pick of tight end Jake Ferguson is likely to be a test.
The Cowboys have several needs at key positions that they need to think about when doling out the money as the salary cap dictates. And the team’s current offense will be more successful if it revolves around an explosive receiver, as it does in the rest of the league.
Schultz is compliant. He was franchised because he has responded beyond expectations since he took over starting in Game 2 of 2020, coming off the bench and taking advantage of the opportunity created by Blake Jarwin’s injuries.
He has completed 141 passes the past two seasons (63 and 78) for a combined 1,423 yards, including 615 in 2020, when more quarterbacks paraded the Cowboys than floats on St. Patrick’s Day because of Dak Prescott’s injury.
He’s one of Prescott’s favorite escape valve or short-run receivers, who is sure to support Schultz.
But in this league you win with vertical explosiveness. Thus, Dallas became last season, especially in principle, the offense that generated the most yards and points in 2021.
The Cowboys have to think about the years ahead, in which players like CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons will have to get expensive multiyear extensions.
Surely the lesson was learned with the case of Prescott, with whom it took too long to tie him and cost significantly more expensive than it would have been. Lamb will play his third season, since he was selected in the first round of 2020; same year as Diggs, in the second round. Parsons is Defensive Rookie of the Year, second in Defensive Player of the Year voting and the best is yet to come…
The Cowboys are going to pay Schultz nearly $11 million next season, which is the franchise tag price, that is, the average of the five highest salaries at that position around the league.
The decisions of the work team exactly in the last week of the season surely have to do with David Njoku’s new contract with the Browns, who gave him 56,750 million dollars for four years, including 28 guaranteed.
But a risky decision, which at first glance seems like a mistake, shouldn’t permeate the Cowboys’ decisions either. It is understandable that Schultz and his representatives have taken out the calculator when they saw that great number for a tight end who was drafted in the first round of the 2017 Draft and that the last three seasons has never exceeded 36 receptions, nor reached 500 yards.
Each team thinks about and distributes its salary cap in the way that best suits its needs, either by game system or by prioritizing positions on the roster.
So there the Browns with their decisions… The Cowboys have to decide their future according to their plans.
Schultz arrived from Stanford in a fourth round, the same as last month’s Wisconsin’s Ferguson, who will have this season to start showing progress. To begin with, his strength in college was as a receiver, rather than a blocker.
Schultz himself was nowhere near being cut before the 2020 season because his first two with the Cowboys were virtually non-existent; 13 receptions for a combined 122 yards, when Jarwin was the starter (2018) and Jason Witten came back from “retirement” (2019).
Schultz can miss this week’s practices, but next week’s are mandatory and subject to a fine for absentees; of course the same as the preseason camp.
Schultz himself knows he’s not essential and that’s why he signed the Designated Player offer when put in front of him, plus his guaranteed salary is almost four times what he earned in his first four NFL seasons.
The Cowboys and Schultz have until July 15 to agree on a multiyear contract or they will have to wait for the 2022 season to end.
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The Cowboys must think long term