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Could TE Dalton Schultz Stay on Franchise Tag for 2022 Season?

When the Cowboys used their 2022 on it was reported that they were actively pursuing a long-term contract as well. But based on recent developments, could Dallas now be planning to allow Schultz to play the upcoming season on the one-year contract?

In early March the Cowboys assigned the non-exclusive franchise tag to their starting TE, giving him a fully-guaranteed $10.9 million salary for the . Schultz had since signed the tender and, barring a new multi-year contract being agreed upon, would play next year on that deal and potentially become an unrestricted next March.

The general assumption has been, as we've seen in the past with , , , and others, that the franchise tag was simply a temporary placeholder while the Cowboys and the player worked out a new contract. The Cowboys would ideally reduce the annual average on Schultz's compensation in exchange for the long-term security and increased overall guaranteed money in a multi-year deal.

But now we're in April and the Cowboys still have $14-$15 million in unused space. They also just announced with some of the nation's top TE prospects like Ohio State's Jeremy Ruckert, Washington's Cade Otton, and from Texas A&M.

Could these be a sign that Dallas is open to keeping Dalton Schultz on the franchise tag this season and letting him find a new team in 2023?

None of the 2022 TE draft prospects are close to guys like or T.J. Hockenson in perceived talent. In fact, even consensus top prospect from Colorado St. is being seen as a Day 2 pick by most analysts.

But while this TE class is lacking elite potential up top, it's been labeled a deep group with potentially strong value n the middle and later rounds. If the Cowboys are focusing on other spots like and with their early picks, they could still find a quality contributor at TE in Round 3-5 with this bunch.

Based on the visits with Ruckert, Otton, and Wydermyer that certainly seems to be one of Dallas' draft goals. But how much does that really tells us about their plans with Dalton Schultz?

The Cowboys released veteran last month after his struggles with and the threat that he might not play at all in 2022 after hip surgery. They still have under contract and recently re-signed veteran for depth, but that doesn't leave much behind Schultz for security.

Dallas could reasonably draft a TE to be Dalton's backup now and for the next few years on a rookie contract. Even if they do reach a long-term agreement with Schultz, the torch may be passed in 3-4 seasons.

But if the one of these prospects in the 3rd Round, burying them in a 2nd-team role for several years isn't really the best use of assets. Relative to other positions backup tight ends aren't that hard to find.

It could be that Dallas is visiting with these players in the hopes that one of them could fall to the 4th Round or beyond. But if they do take a TE on Friday night, one has to wonder if that means they're no longer seeing Dalton Schultz as a long-term asset on .

We probably won't know until much later in the if the Cowboys and Schultz wind up in a multi-year contract. Those moves tend to come well after the draft.

However, while it seemed an eventuality about a month ago, some of these recent signs have now opened up more room for speculation. Dalton Schultz will be back in 2022, but anything beyond that is now more in question.

Jess Haynie
Jess Haynie
Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Yeah. I think if I remember correctly, Stephen had commented that they were going to wait until after the draft to make any decisions.
I like Schultz, however paying him 10M is kind of crazy to me. It is not like he is a guy who gets up the seam and creates mismatches. He also seems to have regressed as a blocker.
I would have loved to let him walk, and sign a Geoff Swaim type of guy, who is a superior blocker, knows our system, and would improve our run game. He is certainly capable of running the drag routes that Schultz runs. We could have saved about 8 million on this years cap.

I am losing faith in the decision making processes as it relates to player RETENTION. I love the job McClay does on evaluation, and find it highly unlikely he is supportive of signings such as these with Schultz.

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