The likelihood Dalton Schultz finalizes a long-term deal with the Cowboys before July 15 continues to diminish. Despite Schultz showing for minicamp and extension talks picking up at that point, progress has proven elusive.
Schultz and the Cowboys are still far apart on terms, according to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. Although the July deadline spurs changes in negotiations with tagged players, nothing about the Schultz talks this offseason has indicated the sides are making substantial progress.
Dallas’ top tight end displayed his dissatisfaction with the pace of these talks during OTAs, when he stopped showing up after initially reporting to the team’s facility for the voluntary workouts. The 25-year-old pass catcher returned for minicamp, indicating some potential improvement on this front. But three weeks away from the deadline, an impasse persists.
Cuffing Schultz with the tag prevented him from factoring his age-26 season into a lucrative free agency deal, and while a $10.9MM 2022 salary represents a significant raise, Schultz is starting at the annual franchise-player plight: the lack of long-term security. A second Schultz tag would cost $13.1MM — a figure still below David Njoku‘s new AAV ($14.2MM), which has likely affected the Cowboys’ talks with their tight end. That may point to the team waiting, though the team almost certainly could have extended Schultz at a lower cost during his 2021 contract year. The Cowboys opted to wait on extensions with 2021 contract-year players, tabling those talks to 2022.
Blake Jarwin suffered multiple major injuries after signing his extension — a lower-cost accord ahead of his fourth season — but collected some guaranteed money prior to those setbacks. Schultz has proven far more as a weapon, totaling 808 receiving yards — the most by a Cowboy tight end since Jason Witten‘s 851 in 2013 — last season. Dak Prescott has stumped for Schultz this offseason, and the veteran passer’s lengthy talks show what can change after a tagged season. Dallas’ three-offseason negotiations with its quarterback led to a monster extension in 2021 (four years, $160MM), a year after Dak was ready to accept a deal at a lower AAV in the summer of 2020. Negotiations for a tight end obviously do not carry the same stakes, but the Cowboys are approaching the Prescott point on the Schultz timeline.
Prescott received a four-year deal, but Gehlken adds length might be an issue in the Schultz talks as well. The Cowboys prefer longer-term extensions, as they have done with Tyron Smith (an extreme example), Zack Martin, Ezekiel Elliott and others. Schultz agreeing to a five-plus-year extension would tie him to the Cowboys into his 30s, potentially limiting his chances of cashing in again.