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With Dalton Schultz Holding Out, Should Cowboys Consider FA Eric Ebron?

Contract negotiations between the Cowboys and franchised aren't going great at the moment. With Schultz now skipping summer practices out of frustration, should Dallas start considering other options? One particularly intriguing one is .

News came out yesterday that Schultz would sit out of the remainder of this week's voluntary mini-camp, specifically citing his unhappiness with the state of contract talks as the reason. As we said yesterday, a truer test of his resolve comes next week when he's subject to fines for missing the mandatory veteran camp.

A lot of this may just be typical posturing and bluster that occurs during negotiations. We often see these talks go well into June and even July, sometimes not culminating in a deal until just before the start of .

However, it's not hard to imagine the Cowboys digging their heels in on Dalton's compensation. With the only paying Schultz $10.9 million while the league's top tight ends are making $14-$15 million annually, his ask is likely much closer to that latter number.

Usually, offering someone the security of a long-term deal comes with the benefit of reducing your annual expense. But if Schultz isn't offering that, the Cowboys must be starting to wonder how hard badly they want to keep him.

This is where a guy like Eric Ebron starts to creep into my mind. The 29-year-old veteran is still a free agent after a down year in Pittsburgh. It also doesn't help that a knee cut his season short at just eight games.

With Dalton Schultz Holding Out, Should Cowboys Consider FA Eric Ebron?
TE Eric Ebron at the 2014

Ebron was once the 10th-overall pick in the 2014 draft. He's often found himself on bad teams and, to be fair, perhaps hasn't done enough personally to help elevate things. He certainly has never had the impact you'd expect from a Top-10 draft prospect. That led to Detroit not offering him a new deal in 2018 and Ebron with Indianapolis.

However, in Andrew Luck's last season with the Colts, Ebron had a year with 66 catches for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns. And with solid numbers (558 yds and five TDs) in a partial backup role in 2020 for the Steelers, Eric recently showed he can still produce when the situation allows.

The Cowboys offer a very generous situation for any starting tight end. That's likely part of their dilemma now with Dalton Schultz; why pay a guy elite money if you think his numbers are more about your system than the player?

How big of a gap really exists between Schultz and a guy like Ebron? Assuming he's healthy, which Eric claimed back in February, is it hard to see a guy with Ebron's track record putting up solid numbers in Dallas' ?

I'm not saying Ebron would be as good as Schultz, but I have to wonder if the disparity in their potential is nearly as great as the likely difference in expense. Now that we're into June Dallas could probably sign Ebron for just $5-$6 million, if not less, for a dramatic cost reduction.

About a month ago I mentioned Ebron along with Jesse James, Kyle Rudolph, and others as free-agent options to be Schultz's backup. Dallas could certainly afford any of those moves now, having just gained $10 million in additional cap space from the of .

But now I'm considering another angle; signing Ebron or another veteran would greatly help the Cowboys' leverage in negotiations with Schultz. It's one thing to look at , , or as the next man up and start to lose heart. Ebron would give the team more reason for fortitude in their contract talks.

Even if you sign Ebron to a one-year deal and still work things out with Schultz, are the 2022 Cowboys still not better off? Improved depth and versatility on offense is never a bad thing.

I know it's hard to fathom the miserly Cowboys spending any cap dollars these days. But now flush with it and with this situation brewing over Dalton Schultz, a shrewd move at tight end seems an excellent use of those funds. And while Eric Ebron isn't the only option who could accomplish the goals, he certainly seems the best one of the remaining .

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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Cowboy Fan Ed

Man these guys really get me!! I realize that DS had a decent year and caught the ball with consistency but his blocking is suspect to me , therefore why not take what is being offered and if the next year you show your the total package tight end then start negotiating for a better deal but don’t stats demanding X amount of money when your a little above average!!

Dave SC58

The only difference between your prediction and one I made a week ago is Dontario Drummond. I had him on the Practice Squad, however, I also had Michael Gallup on the 53. It all depends on Gallup.

TicketyJS

A hybrid “flanker” will not command more than a one year, 10M deal. The bench in waiting looks pretty good. A breakout may occur!

Jasper J

Yes, sign Ebron immediately and for multiple years if he will take ~$6M per year. If Ebron is fully recovered then he would be well worth it. Ebron is listed at 245lbs, the same as Schultz. Some true analysis of his blocking would help determine his true role, but he is certainly more than a big flanker. The upside is that Ebron ran a 4.5 forty; if he is anything close to that after rehab then that would be worth it.

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