The time between now and when the Dallas Cowboys report to Oxnard for training camp looks relatively drama-free on the surface. Considering this is the Dallas Cowboys though, you simply never do know.
As far as the football operations of things there really is nothing pending and lurking that would catch us by any sort of surprise. The lone thing that could generate any sort of story from a football standpoint will be what happens at 4pm ET on July 15th given that if the Cowboys want a long-term deal in place with tight end Dalton Schultz, it has to happen by then.
This is, of course, because the Cowboys placed the franchise tag on Schultz this offseason, a contract offer that he signed before showing up to voluntary activities before ultimately deciding not to show up to the very end of them. Schultz’s tag value in 2022 is for just south of $11M, but he clearly wants the security that a long-term deal would bring.
The Dallas Cowboys and Dalton Schultz reportedly ‘currently stand far apart in negotiations’
It seemed logical to conclude that Schultz was not exactly thrilled with the state of contract talks with the Cowboys given that he decided to pull an about face at voluntary activities as mentioned. We know that the Cowboys are certainly not afraid to push a player towards playing a season on the tag seeing as how both DeMarcus Lawrence and Dak Prescott did so before leveraging their situations into massive, long-term deals.
Unfortunately for Schultz, the tight end market is hardly as rich as the defensive end or quarterback ones, plus he already signed the tag. With about three weeks left until the deadline it seems, according to The Dallas Morning News, like any sort of deal is less than likely.
If the Cowboys soon strike a multi-year deal with Schultz, it will be their first Hall Mary completed of the 2022 season. The two sides currently stand far apart in negotiations. Talks would need to take on new life to culminate in a contract, and market conditions could compel the Cowboys to wait.
He is a better tight end than the Cleveland Browns’ David Njoku, who just signed a four-year, $54.75 million contact in May.
If Njoku’s annual contract value of $13.69 million is now the floor for Schultz’s negotiations and a four-year length is the market standard, it would be a reasonable business approach for the Cowboys to recognize the $10.93 million and $13.12 million costs to tag Schultz in 2022 and 2023, respectively, and feel less than motivated to broker the deal Schultz deserves today.
And it would be reasonable for Schultz to find that frustrating.
As the report notes, the deal that the Cleveland Browns just gave to David Njoku is an undeniable complication. Schultz’s résumé is easily more impressive than Njoku’s so it stands to reason that he would expect to be paid more than that. But he Cowboys don’t exactly want to dish out that kind of money for the position at the moment.
The state of the tight end market honestly lends itself to Dallas capitalizing on two years’ worth of one-year deals of the franchise tag variety with Schultz. It can certainly be argued that this is a far more team-friendly approach that isn’t factoring in the long-term security of the player, so goes the unfortunate reality of football’s business side.
It is difficult to find a reason that Dallas would blink first in this situation given the fact that Schultz already signed the tag. Had he not done so he could threaten not to show up, not to play in 2022, so on and so forth, but with the tag signed he is in fact under contract for this season.
How this season goes will obviously be an important factor in Schultz’s potential free agency next offseason. If the Cowboys do decide to tag him again (like they did with Lawrence and Prescott) perhaps things will go a bit differently.