Dalton Schultz shows up to mandatory camp despite contract frustrations
It’s been quite a year for Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz. He emerged as a breakout star for the Cowboys and became a favorite target for quarterback Dak Prescott in 2021. He also is the first Dallas tight end since Jason Witten to have more than 70 receptions and over 800 receiving yards in one season. And, after the guy who used to be in front of him on the depth chart (Blake Jarwin) got released, the former fourth-rounder got handed a lucrative $10.9 million franchise tag deal.
The tight end has openly admitted that he wants to remain in Dallas. However, when he saw players like Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku get massive long-term contracts instead of the one-year franchise tag deal, Schultz decided to exercise the power he had over the front office. The Stanford product sat out the remainder of OTAs to send a message about his frustration with the lack of long-term contract talks.
Schultz’s agent, who is the person Schultz prefers to handle these things, likely reminded him that the Cowboys need him. With Jarwin out and not-so-stellar backup options, the 25-year-old brings serious value to this organization. So he sat out the final week of OTAs, a move that isn’t uncommon among players looking for bigger contracts.
There were concerns among Cowboys Nation that Schultz may also sit out this week’s mandatory minicamp. According to Calvin Watkins, if the tight end were to miss camp, he’d get fined $15,980 for day one, $31,961 for day two, and $47,836 for day three. That’s a total of $96,877.
Thankfully, the tight end decided to show.
Tight end Dalton Schultz shows up for mandatory camp to avoid fines amidst contract frustrations
ESPN’s Todd Archer was the first to report that the tight end would participate in this week’s activities. Archer also added that “while talks have picked up recently, a deal is not considered close.” As a reminder, the two sides have until July 15th to come to a long-term agreement. If they don’t, Schultz is required to play 2022 on his current one-year deal.
In theory, the fact that talks between Schultz and the front office have increased means his standout during OTAs may have given the message he intended. The fines likely also played a large factor in his decision to show up to the first day of camp on Tuesday.
However, given the current other options at tight end are rookie Jake Ferguson and veterans Jeremy Sprinkle and Sean McKeon, it’s easy to argue that Schultz has some serious leverage in this situation. Ferguson has yet to play an NFL game and Sprinkle and McKeon combined for a mear seven receptions last season.
Considering Njoku earned himself a four-year deal that nets over $14 million a year, Schultz is right to expect more. The Cowboys’ tight end played significantly better than Njoku in the last few seasons.
As we’ve seen over the last few years, contracts have skyrocketed for various position groups. It seems like tight end may be the next group added to the list. As of today, the front office has exactly one month to decide what they want to do with their TE1.