The deadline for any player to turn his one-year franchise tag deal into a long-term extension is this Friday, July 15 at 4 pm EST. As of Monday, there are only four players still on the tag who are eligible for extension. They are Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates, Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki, Kansas City Chiefs tackle Orlando Brown, and Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz.
Schultz has made it clear that he is interested in an extension with the Cowboys. While he told reporters earlier in the offseason that he prefers to let his agent handle these things, he did express the desire for a long future in Dallas. He even chose to sit out the final days of OTAs to show his dissatisfaction with a lack of conversation around an extension.
The tight end could have also decided to not attend the Cowboys’ mandatory minicamp to give another strong message, but wisely chose to show up in order to avoid fines. According to Calvin Watkins, Schultz could’ve owed up to $96,877 if he missed all three days.
It’s been almost a month since the minicamp and no deal has been made. In fact, most of the more recent reports have said the two sides are nowhere close to a deal.
However, a new update from NFL insider Mike Garafolo is saying the opposite. Garafolo believes that Schultz is going to “make another run” at a deal with Jerry Jones and Co.
NFL insider Mike Garofolo believes Dalton Schultz will make another attempt at a long-term deal with the Cowboys
Here is what Garafolo learned from his sources:
"“Let’s start with Dalton Schultz and the Cowboys. These sides have actually engaged in contract negotiations. I can’t really say that for the other folks we are going to talk about here. I’m just going to project a little bit of optimism here. When I talk to folks involved they say, ‘eh, this one is going to be hard to do. You know the Cowboys like their five-year deals.’ But then you got David Njoku at 13 [million] and other guys above that. So Schultz is going to want to be up there.I think within the next week, there’s going to be more talks. I’m going to keep open the possibility of a long-term deal for Dalton Schultz here”"
Garafolo also said that of the four players who haven’t made long-term deals out of their franchise tag contracts, Schultz is the closest. Unlike Schultz and the Cowboys, Garafolo mentioned that there had been pretty much no conversation at all between Gesicki and Miami.
It’s worth noting that the $10.9 million Schultz is set to make in 2021 is a significant raise from what he was earning on his rookie contract. But Schultz and his agent aren’t naive. They are aware of what’s going on around the league. Considering the contracts other tight ends have been able to sign this offseason, they know a safety blanket for Dak Prescott could and should be worth a lot more.
Four other franchise-tagged players already converted their one-year deals to extensions (WR Davante Adams, T Cam Robinson, WR Chris Godwin, and TE David Njoku). It’s likely that Njoku’s new deal really lit a fire under the Cowboys’ tight end. Njoku, who was a former first-round pick, hasn’t had a season of note since 2018. Yet, he was able to get himself a four-year contract with the Browns worth $56 million with $28 million guaranteed.
That means Njoku went from the $10.9 franchise tag tight end salary to earning himself over $14 million a year, making him the fourth-highest paid tight end per year. That’s all for a guy who was far worse than Schultz in 2021. The Cowboys’ TE and his agent can argue that Schultz’s role on this team and his necessity in a struggling offense is worth way more than he’s making.
If no long-term extension is made, Schultz will still have a chance to earn himself even more money next year. With a second-straight productive year, he will get some serious money thrown his way next year in a league where efficient tight ends are hard to come by. Whether that money comes from the Cowboys or another team in 2023 will be interesting to see.
However, if the Stanford product and the front office do make a deal, Schultz will likely join a club of only seven tight ends who make over $12 million a season. With four days left to go, this really could go either way.