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Cowboys TE Position Already an Asset, but Could it be Stronger?

With Blake Jarwin coming back from injury and Dalton Schultz having proven himself in his absence, the Dallas Cowboys can view their tight end position as an asset heading into the 2021 offseason. As we continue our Position Preview series, we’ll discuss how reliable this TE group is and if Dallas needs to consider any moves to make it even stronger.

The Cowboys took a leap of faith by making Blake Jarwin their starting tight end for 2020, only to lose him in the 2nd Quarter of their first game. Little did we know at that point how much injuries would dominate the season, as Jarwin’s became just one of many to send Dallas into an early-season spiral.

Dalton Schultz, after two invisible seasons on the roster, surprisingly stepped up with this opportunity. He finished 6th among NFL tight ends with 63 catches and 11th with his 615 yards. Those numbers would’ve been higher had Dak Prescott not been lost at quarterback.

With both Jarwin and Schultz under contract for 2021, the Cowboys are left in a solid position at tight end. Here’s the complete outlook for the position based on contracts:

2021 Tight End Contract Statuses

  • Signed
    • Cole Hikutini
    • Blake Jarwin
    • Sean McKeon
    • Dalton Schultz
  • Free Agents
    • Blake Bell (U)
U = Unrestricted, R = Restricted, E = Exclusive Rights

There are really onto two decisions facing Dallas when it comes to the TE position. One is with veteran free agent Blake Bell; do they bring the 29-year-old back or do they turn the depth spots over to younger talent?

Bell was signed last year to provide experienced depth after winning a Super Bowl as Travis Kelce’s backup in Kansas City. He ended up getting passed on the depth chart by Schultz and remaining in a bit role despite Jarwin’s injury, but Bell still played on about 30% of the offensive snaps as a blocker and rare receiving target.

As Bell turns 30 in August, Dallas may choose to focus on developing some of their prospects. They’ve had Cole Hikutini on the practice squad the last two seasons and Sean McKeon joined in 2020 as an undrafted free agent. And of course, there will be a new crop of rookie talent and low-cost free agents available this offseason.

The other decision is about the top of the depth chart; should the Cowboys be content with Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz or should they try to get even stronger at tight end?

Florida TE Kyle Pitts

A very possible scenario for the Cowboys in 2021 is being on the clock with the 10th overall pick and having Florida TE Kyle Pitts available. The athletic 6’6″ receiving threat is drawing comparisons to the Raiders’ Darren Waller, a Pro Bowler who helped plenty of folks win their fantasy leagues the last two seasons.

The chance to add a talent like Pitts at age 20 will be hard to pass up. It would put the Cowboys in the same position as 2020 when they had WR CeeDee Lamb fall in their laps and chose him over positions of greater need.

Sure, there’s still hope that Blake Jarwin can be a breakout star in Dallas offense. But Pitts should be an immediate upgrade over Schultz in 2021 and give the Cowboys nice flexibility at the position for the next four seasons.

But with major concerns on the offensive line and on defense, not to mention having neither Dak Prescott or Andy Dalton under contract yet for 2021, Dallas may decide that drafting a tight end is a luxury they can’t afford. If so, it will be because of their confidence in Jarwin and Schultz to handle things next season.

It’s a reasonable assertion so long as the receiving trio of Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup are still around next year. Schultz benefitted from their presence in 2020 even with the QB and OL issues that rocked the offense.

Even if adding Kyle Pitts becomes a real option, the Cowboys can reasonably use that pick elsewhere and feel good about what their current tight ends might do in 2021. That’s a nice place to be this offseason with so many other big issues at other positions.

~ ~ ~

Other Cowboys 2021 Position Previews

QBRB | WR | OT | G | C

DE | DT | LB | CB | S

Special Teams

(Click the position above to jump to article. Links will become active as articles are published.)

What do you think?

Jess Haynie

Written by 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!

Comments

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  1. Are you kidding me? With needs at OT, S, CB, DT and QB Dallas would be insane to waste any pick in the draft on a TE. I’m sure there’s a K they could draft in the first round LOL.

  2. I don’t think the TE position is a big need. In fact it may be the smallest need on the entire team. The defensive side needs much more attention. And depending on Cowboy/DP contract progress, the QB position may be in play also.

  3. The so called “need” at TE is a joke , THERE’S SOOOO MANY MORE NEEDS THAN TE , if Cowboys get him with 10th pick then I’m gonna join a AFC team bandwagon , WHAT A JOKE SMH

  4. A few things I’m pretty certain about …

    The Cowboys have a long history of No.2 TE’s who are quality players but just never get into the game plan. The question is, was that solely because it was Witten blocking them (not IMO) or because they’ve yet to figure out how to properly use “utility players” like Martellus Bennet, Tony Pollard, Lance Dunbar, etc.

    Bell was not necessarily brought in as just depth. The club still didn’t know what it had in Schultz and Bell was expected to be the first TE used when a blocking TE was called for. But Schultz proved he’s a combo TE, as they thought when they drafted him.

    This team will fail to use both Schultz and Jarwin in 2-TE personnel packages. Along the same lines as item #1 above, this team (Moore?) just doesn’t do well at being dynamic beyond the starting group of players.

    Barring offseason injuries, Bell won’t be back. McKeon was not hesitated to be called on as a blocking TE, so Bell is just a more expensive option, which doesn’t bode well with the COVID-cap year.

    If they draft Pitts (and it’s not out of the question!), I sure hope it’s after trading down!

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