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Why Dalton Schultz’s emergence could be both good and bad for the Dallas Cowboys

2021 may or may not be Dalton Schultz’s last with the Dallas Cowboys.

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Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Time to put any debate as to who the Dallas Cowboys starting tight end is to bed. Dalton Schultz is playing at a really high level right now and continues to come through whenever needed. He’s playing so well, in fact, he’s currently ranked second behind only Travis Kelce right now according to grades handed out by PFF.

Schultz grading out among the elite tight ends in the game right now is both good and bad news for the Cowboys. It’s good they’re receiving quality production from the TE position, but bad considering their former fourth-round pick (137th overall) in 2018 is in a contract year. It puts them in a bit of a catch-22 situation.

On one hand, the Cowboys definitely want to see Dalton Schultz’s arrow continue to trend upwards. He has turned himself into a reliable weapon in both the running game as a blocker and the passing game as a receiver. On the flipside, though, it means he could be playing himself out of their price range.

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It’s never too early to look ahead, and sadly, a Dalton Schultz-less TE group means the position likely becomes a draft “need” this offseason. It’s true Blake Jarwin is still under contract for a few more years, but he has yet to prove himself a reliable starter since signing his contract extension in 2020. Even if he does, the depth behind him is nonexistent.

With the future in mind, the Cowboys would probably love to bring back No. 86 to solidify the TE position for the foreseeable future. After all, he’s now a proven commodity and is just 25 years old. Locking him up as the starter would be a sound investment, however, per usual, that will depend on his price tag.

Although the Cowboys would love for him to take a hometown discount on a team-friendly contract, it’s highly unlikely Dalton Schultz will entertain such an offer. He’s had to scratch and claw his way to the top of the depth chart and would probably like to cash in after all of the hard work he’s put in. It’s just the nature of the business, after all.

Unfortunately, we may need to get used to the idea this season could be Dalton Schultz’s last with the Cowboys. It’s still possible he returns on a contract extension, but there are just way too many variables to consider right now to know that’s a given. So, enjoy him while you can because there’s no telling where he may end up next year.