After signing a major free agent, a Dallas Cowboys player could be “expendable”.
Harrison Reno from Sports Illustrated noted that the Cowboys may be getting ready for life without Dalton Schultz, their tight end. After Schultz and Cowboys couldn’t agree on a contract extension, the 26-year old is currently playing under the franchise tag. This season, Dallas granted an increase in playing time for rookie tight ends Peyton Hendershot (and Jake Ferguson).
“The white-hot interest in free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. would lead you to believe that the Cowboys are confident in their financial flexibility,” says Reno. “But something has to give … and the emergence of two rookie tight ends helps make a case as to why the Cowboys may not re-sign Schultz.”
This three-headed trio could be a way to help Dallas lower Schultz’s value when he enters free agency. It may also make Odell Beckham Jr. cheaper in the long term.
“In reality, what Dallas has developed here is smart,” Reno continued. “Affordable rookie contracts represent a key way to ‘beat the cap’ … in this case maybe both eventually making Dalton Schultz expendable while making Odell Beckham Jr. affordable.”
Schultz was able to score two touchdowns in the Cowboys victory over the New York Giants on Thanksgiving Day. However, the Cowboys still had time for the two rookie tight ends. Ferguson saw 36 snaps, while Hendershot saw 20. Meanwhile, Schultz saw 63 snaps.
Schultz is still the tight end lead, but Schultz’s reliance on the young tight ends will likely reduce his leverage in contract negotiations. Schultz’s nine-start season has seen 33 receptions for 310 yard and three touchdowns, while averaged 34.4 yards per week. After accumulating 78 receptions for 808 yard (47.5 yards per match) and eight touchdowns last year, he’s expected to have lower overall production.
Schultz saw action on 74 per cent of offensive snaps during his appearances this year. This is a slight decrease from the 81 per cent he saw last season. Ferguson has been in 48 percent snaps, while Hendershot has seen action in 32 percent snaps.
Beckham is still a free agent, but he is looking for a long-term place to call home. In a recent interview, Beckham revealed that he hopes his next destination will be a place where he can call home for many years.
“Whether it’s Buffalo, Green Bay calling, the Cowboys, or reunion with the Giants,” Beckham said, “I want to be able to spill these last three or four years into these next three or fours into something where I can buy a home, like somewhere I can call home.”
The Cowboys will have to sign Beckham to a contract worth more than one year to lure him to Dallas. Beckham is currently being challenged by the Cowboys, who are also facing stiff competition from the Giants and Buffalo Bills.
Hendershot and Ferguson have both been important contributors, especially since Schultz has missed two games due to injuries. In the Giants win, Ferguson had five receptions for 57 yard.
Dak Prescott is certain Schultz is his favorite target in the passing game, other than CeeDee Lamb. It’s evident that Dallas is working to prepare for the future without Schultz, by showcasing Ferguson or Hendershot.
The Cowboys will have to resign running back Tony Pollard and offer Beckham a lucrative contract. This could mean that Schultz may be leaving Dallas in his last days.