Like with most of their offensive positions in 2021, the Dallas Cowboys didn't add any big names or even spend a draft pick at tight end this offseason. As we continue our “Better or Worse” series, we'll discuss how the lack of activity may still allow for the TE group to be stronger this season.
As you are probably already thinking, the key factor here is Blake Jarwin's return from injury. After being given the starting job following Jason Witten's second retirement, Jarwin was injured in Week One against the Rams and never got to show his stuff.
While seemingly a big blow to the team when it happened, Jarwin's injury opened the door for Dalton Schultz to emerge as one of the few silver linings of 2020. Schultz performed well with the opportunity; surprising given his virtual non-existence the previous two years.
Now Dallas is in a much stronger position than last year. Whereas before it felt like Blake was the starter by default and depth was a big concern, 2021 may offer us a genuine competition between him and Schultz for the role. If nothing else, Schultz is now a far more reliable depth option than we thought we had going into 2020.
2021 Offseason Movement at TE
The Cowboys did swap veteran backups this year, losing Blake Bell in free agency but then adding Jeremy Sprinkle. The two have comparable experience and skillsets, both primarily blockers, and it's a change that really doesn't move the needle much overall.
Whether or not Dallas keeps a fourth TE in 2021 is hard to say. They could be hard-pressed to if they want a third QB or to go long at WR. Given WR Noah Brown's skills as a blocker and in special teams units, going long at TE seems the least likely scenario.
But those names, and even Sprinkle's as the veteran free agent, aren't really swing factors for the position. The key drivers here are Blake Jarwin's return and Dalton Schultz's emergence as a proven asset for the team.
Ironically, Jarwin is now arguably the biggest question mark. Blake was given a lot based on faith in 2020, and now we have more evidence of who Schultz is as a starter.
The battle between them for the starting job is going to be a major storyline for training camp. The good news for Dallas is that, regardless of the winner, they should be stronger at tight end as a result.