Today we continue our 2023 Dallas Cowboys free agency profile series. Our next profile features another offensive weapon, tight end Dalton Schultz.
2022 Stats: 15G, 89 targets, 57 receptions, 577 yards, 5 receiving TDs, 10.1 Y/R, 27 1D, 64.0 Catch%
Year Review: Overall, 2022 was a pretty disappointing season for Cowboys’ tight end Dalton Schultz. After putting together the best statistical season of his career in 2021 in which he caught 78 passes for 808 yards and eight touchdowns, Dallas placed the franchise tag, worth about $11M, on Schultz for the 2022 season.
The Cowboys were hoping the 26-year-old tight end would be able to replicate his 2021 production and help lessen the blow of Amari Cooper’s departure during the offseason. Unfortunately for both Schultz and the Cowboys, he never was able to achieve that level of play in 2022.
One area Schultz did excel in this season was being a solid red zone threat, especially toward the end of the season. The tight end hauled in seven touchdown receptions in Dallas’ final nine games of the year, scoring three times during the Cowboys’ two playoff games.
DAK PRESCOTT ➡️ DALTON SCHULTZ— ESPN (@espn) January 17, 2023
(via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/neQgLCINFM
WHAT A DIME BY DAK TO DALTON SCHULTZ— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 24, 2022
While there was some good, there also was plenty of bad during Schultz’s 2022 campaign. The tight end dropped a career-high six passes and his catch% of 64.0% was the second-worst of his career. Multiple times we saw Dak Prescott throw catchable balls that Schultz was just unable to come up with.
Overall, Schultz looked more like the guy we saw in 2020 this season than the version of him we saw in 2021.
Free Agency Outlook: Even with a bit of a down year, Schultz still will likely garner plenty of interest on the open market. There aren’t tons of productive tight ends in the league, and someone will likely believe they can turn Schultz back into the guy he was in 2021 if he’s used the correct way.
Spotrac projects Schultz to earn a four-year, $60M contract in free agency. If this was to happen, it would make Schultz the second-highest-paid tight end in football.
While that evaluation does seem a bit rich, some team is going to sign Schultz to a multi-year, big-money deal that will make him, without a doubt, one of the higher-paid tight ends in the league.
Final Verdict: While it certainly would be nice for the Cowboys' offense to have Schultz back next season, it seems more like a luxury than a need at this point. Even if he does not reach the contract that Spotrac projected, Schultz still likely to get a minimum of $8-10M a year on the open market.
The Cowboys have too many holes to fill at other positions to get locked into a long-term deal with a player that has not shown much consistency. Dallas will let Schultz go in free agency and add another cheaper tight end in the draft or via free agency.
Prediction: Schultz reunites with Kellen Moore and signs with the Los Angeles Chargers.