Tagging Dalton Schultz small price to pay for Prescott’s security blanket

Dalton Schultz #86 of the Dallas Cowboys Dak Prescott #4(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Dalton Schultz #86 of the Dallas Cowboys Dak Prescott #4(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /
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Dalton Schultz #86 of the Dallas Cowboys
Dalton Schultz #86 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

While the stats illustrate his overall reliability, it’s also important to note his comfortability to Dak Prescott. Of Prescott’s 596 attempts this past season, 60% of his targets went to three guys, with each, evenly, getting about 20%.

Schultz was one of those three, and he was also the most dependable. Not only do the aforementioned numbers echo that, but it became clear in games that Prescott began to look on and rely on Schultz. When QB1 needed a valve or a “break in case of emergency” option, he always looked for No. 86.

Other than the numbers and surface-level things, there is also something to be said for how Schultz went from backup to key starter. Blake Jarwin was supposed to be the guy, earning a long-term deal with the Cowboys after a few good years. However, after he was hurt, Schultz stepped right in and never looked back. And not only has he been as good a receiver as Jarwin was (possibly even better), but he is also, out and out, the much better player in the run game.

It gets even better though. Being the complete player that Schultz has shown to be, he could have asked for top or near the top of the market money on the free-agent market given his breakout campaign.  By signing him to the franchise tag, the Cowboys may have actually saved themselves money securing a top guy. Coming in right under $11 million on the year, that would put him in the mix of a three-way salary tie for seventh, eighth, and ninth, where the 10th ranked player only makes a few hundred thousand less than that trio.

The top six tight ends in the league, salary-wise, make between $12.5-15 million per year. So the Cowboys may have snagged a top tight end for less by doing it this way. Also, from a production standpoint, Schultz was a top-three tight end in the game last season. He ranked sixth in yards at 808 (on a team with a ton of other weapons, might it be added), while he ranked third in receptions.

To add a cherry on top, he only had the sixth-highest total amount of targets for tight ends. That’s pretty good, huh? Indeed, it is. That, along with the rest of the case laid out here, is why Schultz’s franchise tag number should be seen as a small penance to pay to bring back a guy that’s an excellent player in the league, a complete football player at his position, and Prescott’s favorite little security blanket.

The Cowboys would also be wise to get a longer-term deal worked out with the 25-year-old tight end sometime soon. But hey, it would be the typical Cowboys thing to do to mess around and have to just pay the tag all over again next year.

Let’s hope not, but Schultz must stick around, one way or another.

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