Unless something really crazy happens in 2021, the Jason Witten Era appears to be at its true end in Dallas. The Cowboys have made a couple of moves in free agency to stock up at tight end, but should they also be looking to the 2020 NFL Draft for more talent options?
Blake Jarwin should finally get his chance to be the true number one. Dallas just gave him a four-year, $22 million contract, and that $5.5 million average is middle of the road for starting tight ends in the NFL. As Bill Parcells might say, the Cowboys applied some “anointing oil” with that contract.
Dalton Schultz wasn’t so lucky. Instead of moving up the depth chart unopposed, the third-year TE saw Dallas sign veteran Blake Bell during the second wave of free agency.
Bell worked as TE2 in the Kansas City offense last year, playing about 38% of the offensive snaps for the reigning Super Bowl Champions. He is a blocking TE and should get plenty of utilization given the Cowboys desire to run the ball.
That doesn’t mean Schultz has been forgotten. A 4th-round pick in 2018, Dalton still has two years left on his rookie deal and Blake Bell was only signed for 2020. The Cowboys have incentive to continue Schultz’ development.
This early offseason work tells us a lot. Given the contract handed to Blake Jarwin and the move to add Bell, it doesn’t appear that Dallas will be adding a rookie TE using any premium draft pick.
And that’s probably a good thing, because this 2020 class is very weak at tight end.
None of the 2020 tight ends are considered 1st-round talents. Top prospects like Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet and Dayton’s Adam Trautman likely won’t go until sometime Friday night.
In a loaded or even average TE class, Kmet or Trautman might not hear their name called until the Third Round. But I would bet good money that someone will use a 2nd-round pick because of their need level at the position.
One of the dangers of the NFL Draft in any year is seeing a weak group get over-drafted. It’s just human nature. If you go to the grocery store for some fruit and it’s a bad selection, do you walk away or just find the best one of the bunch?
Teams that really need a TE will still take these guys, and perhaps higher than they really want to, because they don’t want to be stuck with even worse options in later rounds.
The Cowboys have the luxury of leaning on their current options. No, Blake Jarwin probably isn’t a future Hall of Fame TE. He may not ever make the Pro Bowl. But he can start right now and probably do fine for the next several seasons.
Dallas just made Amari Cooper one of the richest receivers in football. They made Ezekiel Elliott the highest-paid RB a year ago. And they’re probably about to give a record-breaking contract to Dak Prescott. Throw in their high-priced offensive linemen and, at some point, all of these expensive stars have to elevate a few of the other guys on offense.
So no, the Cowboys really don’t need to worry about the TE position in the 2020 Draft. They have their starter and two backups; the most they might consider is drafting some late-round prospect that intrigues the coaches.
But thankfully, even with Jason Witten’s departure, Dallas isn’t desperate. They have the luxury of letting a TE talent fall to them in this draft rather than having to reach to fill a need.
And in the end, if the Cowboys don’t draft any tight ends, they’ll be okay for the 2020 season.