Cowboys’ Dalton Schultz Frustrated By Contract Negotiations

After showing up for the previous round of Cowboys OTAs, Dalton Schultz intends to skip this week’s conclusion of the team’s voluntary offseason program. The extension talks are not proceeding to the franchise-tagged tight end’s liking, Tom Pelissero of tweets.

The tight end position has shifted into focus this offseason, this coming as wide receivers’ salaries are skyrocketing. David Njoku‘s $14.2MM-per-year Browns extension will affect the other two tagged tight ends — Schultz and Miami’s Mike Gesicki — and Dallas’ talks with Schultz had not exactly oozed progress entering the summer.

[RELATED: Schultz Seeking Long-Term Stay With Cowboys]

The Cowboys gave Blake Jarwin a four-year, $22MM deal in 2020 — when the team let the unretired Jason Witten walk in free agency — but Jarwin’s injury trouble changed the team’s plans again at the position. Schultz ended up becoming the team’s true Witten heir apparent. He stepped in to start 14 games in place of Jarwin in 2020, hauling in 63 passes for 615 yards and four touchdowns. Schultz’s 2021 encore — 78 receptions, 808 yards, eight TDs — led to the Cowboys slapping the $10.9MM tag on him.

Schultz, 25, has already signed his franchise tender. That locks him into the $10.9MM salary while also allowing the Cowboys to fine him for missing minicamp later this month. Given the sizable salary raise Schultz booked in March, it would seem a minicamp absence would be a legitimate course of action. Waging a training camp holdout is a costlier call, but there will be a resolution by that time.

No Schultz extension by July 15 ensures he plays a season on the tag. The Cowboys have seen this scenario play out recently, on a much higher-profile level, when Dak Prescott failed to come to terms on a deal before the 2020 tag deadline. Schultz’s $10.9MM cap figure would not rival Prescott’s 2020 price, and the team may be keen to rent Schultz for a season before determining if a big-ticket tight end deal is worthwhile.

Dallas has committed to Michael Gallup as its No. 2 wide receiver this year, via an $11.5MM-AAV deal in March, and has CeeDee Lamb on his rookie contract. The team can put off a Lamb extension until 2024, if necessary, due to the fifth-year option. The Cowboys have $22MM-plus in cap space, with their La’el Collins cut generating post-June 1 funding, but may be skittish on paying Schultz top-five tight end money. Njoku became the NFL’s fourth-highest-paid tight end, but Schultz’s 2021 showing is statistically superior to any of Njoku’s five seasons. This will almost certainly be an issue for the Cowboys and Dolphins, who have seen Gesicki top Njoku’s best work twice, and create intrigue in other tight end negotiations — likely Darren Waller‘s as well — in the near future.

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