There’s some good news on the Cowboys’ injury front. According to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter), tight end Dalton Schultz avoided a serious knee injury and shouldn’t miss much time. Gehlken also tweets that wide receiver Michael Gallup could make his season debut on Monday night against the Giants.
Schultz suffered a knee injury during Sunday’s win over the Bengals, but an MRI later revealed that his injury could have been much worse. The tight end is specifically dealing with a PCL injury, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer (on Twitter), and he’s currently considered day-to-day. Jerry Jones cautioned yesterday that Schultz could end up sitting out Week 3, but if that’s the case, it sounds like it should only be a one-week absence.
The tight end had a strong season in 2021, finishing with 808 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Through two games this season, the 26-year-old has hauled in nine receptions for 80 yards.
Meanwhile, Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones said it’s “certainly possible” that Gallup takes the field on Monday night (per Gehlken on Twitter), while Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News tweets that Gallup will indeed play but will be on a snap count. The receiver tore his ACL in Week 17 of the 2021 season, and he later inked a five-year, $62.5MM extension with Dallas this offseason.
“The plan for Michael Gallup is to get him a full week of work,” coach Mike McCarthy said (via Watkins). “He hasn’t had that yet. Hopefully when we get to the end of it, we’ll be able to make a decision. I think I talked about this last week, I really don’t see Michael going through a second padded practice, I thought his work last week was excellent. He frankly, did a little more than we anticipated in the beginning of the week. We’re going to try and give him a full slate this week and see how it goes.”
For the first time since 2018, the summer franchise tag deadline day did not produce an extension. The past three years brought deadline-day deals for Taylor Moton, Derrick Henry, Chris Jones, Grady Jarrett and Robbie Gould. None of the four teams who still had tagged players could hammer out a deal Friday, however.
Bengals safety Jessie Bates, Chiefs left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki and Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz remain attached to their franchise tag prices ($12.9MM, $16.7MM, $10.9MM, $10.9MM, respectively). They are prevented from negotiating with their teams again until the 2022 season ends. The four teams can apply second franchise tags to these players in 2023, at 120% of their 2022 tag prices.
The Chiefs and Brown came closest to a deal. Although the Chiefs reached an extension agreement with Frank Clark upon trading a first-round pick and change for him in 2019, they postponed Brown negotiations last year. When the sides came to the table, after Brown earned a Pro Bowl nod for his first season as a full-time left tackle, the fifth-year blocker had a new agent and wanted a deal that made him the highest-paid offensive lineman. The Chiefs were willing to go there, but on their terms. What amounts to a dummy year in the contract’s final season led Brown to turn down a six-year, $139MM extension offer. Although failed tag talks often lead to separations the following year, it would surprise if the Chiefs — considering the compensation they parted with for Brown in 2021 — did not make a strong effort to extend Brown in 2023.
Less clarity emerged with the other three tag negotiations, but the Bengals‘ five-year offer and reported guarantee of around $17MM — which would be a fringe top-10 mark at the safety position — did not bring Bates to sign an extension. The fifth-year defender wanted to be the NFL’s highest-paid safety, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). Minkah Fitzpatrick moved that number to $18.2MM per year this summer. Bates expressed interest in re-signing with the Bengals in 2021, after he posted a strong 2020 season. Following a less impactful 2021 regular season, Bates rebounded with critical playoff contributions. The Bengals, who drafted safety Daxton Hillin Round 1 and have Vonn Bell under contract for one more season, may be willing to let Bates test free agency a year from now. But Bell’s contract-year status may well keep Bates in the fold beyond 2022.
A lot of Schultz news came out this offseason, including a late rumor of a possible deal coming to fruition. But scant optimism about a Cowboys long-term deal surfaced. Dallas cuffed its top tight end and, with Schultz having signed his tender, he can be fined daily for not reporting to training camp. Although Schultz left OTAs to make a point about negotiations, he showed for Cowboys minicamp. The sides, however, appeared far apart. Ahead of Friday’s deadline, they had not negotiated in weeks. Contract length was an issue for Schultz’s camp. While Dak Prescott‘s contract is an exception, the Cowboys prefer five- or six-year extensions. No deadline-day magic occurred, and Schultz may become a bigger part of Dallas’ offense, with the team having traded Amari Cooper shortly after tagging its tight end.
It does not sound like substantial Gesicki-Dolphins talks occurred this offseason. Though, Gesicki was interested in an extension. After the former second-round pick broke through for a 703-yard, six-touchdown 2020 season, the team did not make an extension ahead of his 2021 contract year a priority. Gesicki then posted a 780-yard slate. That was enough to move Miami to keep the Penn State product off the free agent market. Gesicki should play a key part in a critical Tua Tagovailoa season, but with Tyreek Hill‘s $30MM-per-year contract now on Miami’s books, other Dolphins skill players may be affected.
Bates and Brown have not signed their tenders. This would allow each to skip training camp without being fined. The 2020 CBA prevents teams from waiving fines for holdouts, pointing to Gesicki and Schultz showing up. Bates is not expected to attend camp, and Brown hinted at staying away for a while. The Bengals and Chiefs’ tagged performers have until Nov. 15 to sign their tenders, or they cannot play in 2022. Multiple defensive linemen (Sean Gilbert and Dan Williams, the latter a Chiefs tag recipient) followed through with skipping seasons after being tagged in the late 1990s, but Le’Veon Bell (2018) is the only player to pass on a guaranteed salary by skipping a full season while attached to the tag this century.
As the deadline for franchise tag recipients continues to draw near, there has been a noteworthy (if unsurprising) development regarding the two tight ends yet to sign a long-term deal. In a pair of tweets, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that neither Dalton Schultznor Mike Gesickiare expected to reach agreement with their respective teams on a new contract.
No talks have taken place between Schultz and the Cowboys in weeks, so it was reported days ago that nothing was considered to be imminent in terms of a last-minute deal being finalized. While the door had been opened to the possibility of such a scenario materializing, this news is in line with what had been expected throughout the offseason.
Schultz wouldn’t have been on the tag radar after his first two seasons in Dallas. The former fourth-rounder had totalled just 13 scoreless receptions by the start of the 2020 season. Since then, however, he has received 193 targets, accrued 1,423 yards and racked up 12 scores. Dallas has obviously not been able to put together a multi-year offer close enough to Schultz’s perceived value, however.
In Gesicki’s case, it was likewise reported recently that an extension was unlikely at this late stage of the negotiating window. The 26-year-old entered the league with more pedigree compared to Schultz from his college days, and has been a consistent contributor in Miami’s passing game for longer. He posted new career highs in receptions (73) and yards (780) in 2021, continuing his ascending production.
“I am absolutely open to negotiation, but it’s not really up to me,” he said in April, when asked about contract talks. “If they reach out, my agent will be listening.” Not much progress has been made since then, as the Dolphins seem prepared to let 2022 play out with Gesicki perhaps falling down the pecking order in a pass-catching corps which now includes Tyreek Hill.
By remaining on the tag – which, unlike Chiefs left tackle Orlando Brown Jr.and Bengals safety Jessie Bates, both Schultz and Gesicki have signed – the pair will each earn $10.93MM. That could constitute considerable value at a position whose market has been elevated by deals such as the one signed by fellow tag recipient DavidNjoku, who has less of a track record of success. A second tag next season would cost roughly $13.12MM, which still wouldn’t rank in the top-five at the position. Attention will now turn to Brown and Bates to see if last-minute deals can be reached with their respective teams.
As the deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions continues to approach, one of the situations receiving the most attention is that between the Cowboys and tight end Dalton Schultz. For the most part, signs have pointed towards a stalemate preventing a long-term pact being worked out. That likelihood is strengthened, if anything, by the latest update on the matter.
Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning New reports that there have been no contract talks between the two sides “in weeks” (Twitter link). As a result, he adds, “no deal is imminent” at this point. That falls in line with the prevailing sentiment throughout the spring, as both parties have remained far apart during negotiations at all times.
There was, on the other hand, cause for at least some optimism over the weekend, when it was predicted that talks would resume in the days leading up to Friday’s deadline. Assuming that takes place, the chance will still remain that a breakthrough can be reached; if not, the former fourth-rounder will earn $10.9MM in 2022 on the tag.
The tight end market has, like other positions, experienced an upward trend in recent years. 2022 has seen David Njokuland a sizeable extension, leading many to wonder what extensions for Schultz and fellow tag recipient Mike Gesickiwould look like. The Cowboys have, of course, shown a propensity to give multi-year deals to key contributors in the prime. Schultz has demonstrated that he fits into that category, becoming one of Dak Prescott‘s most reliable targets during the past two campaigns in particular.
A long-term contract would, in all likelihood, elevate Schultz comfortably into the top-10 in TE per-year earnings. He could also land such a deal with the Cowboys (who have used multiple tags in recent years on cornerstone players) or another team in 2023, given the increased pass-catching role he is in line for this year. Barring a significant change, the latter timing scenario still seems the likeliest outcome in this situation.
This year has brought a better success rate for tags leading to extensions, at least compared to the past two offseasons. Four of the eight players given the tag in March have signed extensions. That betters the 2020 (2-for-14) and 2021 (3-for-9) success rates. While Chris Godwin (Buccaneers), Cam Robinson (Jaguars), David Njoku (Browns) and Davante Adams (Packers; traded to Raiders) agreed to deals, the rest of this year’s group remains unsigned.
Here is how that quartet stands entering deadline week:
This looks like the most contentious of this year’s remaining tag situations. Bates, 25, discussed his disappointment about the lack of a Bengals extension ahead of his 2021 contract year and admitted not receiving a long-term deal affected him during the season. The former second-round pick, who rebounded with a postseason run featuring two interceptions and six pass deflections, voiced opposition to the franchise tag in February. Absent a long-term deal, the fifth-year defender is not expected to show for Bengals training camp. Bates, who has not signed his franchise tender, is tied to a $12.9MM tag figure. The Bengals hold $15.8MM in cap space.
This situation has not produced as many headlines as Bates’ over the past year, but the Chiefs are a few days away from going to year-to-year with their left tackle. Brown is tied to a $16.7MM tag but is pursuing a deal that makes him the NFL’s highest-paid offensive lineman. Trent Williams, whom the Chiefs pursued in free agency last year before pivoting to a Brown trade, currently holds that title ($23MM per year). The league has three $20MM-AAV O-linemen (Williams, David Bakhtiari and Laremy Tunsil). For Brown to commit to a long-term deal, he would need to be the fourth. The Chiefs hold $14.3MM in cap space.
In moving from a right tackle the Ravens did not have in their long-term plans to a Chiefs Pro Bowler given the tag, Brown has shown a knack for maximizing his value. Like Bates, Brown has not signed his franchise tender, giving him the option of skipping training camp free of charge. The Chiefs have just one O-lineman, Joe Thuney, signed to a notable veteran deal. It would seem the franchise is prepared to give Brown a big-ticket extension. If the 26-year-old blocker is intent on surpassing Williams’ deal, it will test the Chiefs’ commitment.
The Dolphins might be eyeing a rental season here. Gesicki signed his franchise tender and has expressed interest in a long-term Miami deal. But the team may want to see more from the former second-round pick. Less than a week before the deadline, the sides have not done much work on an extension. Njoku’s $14.2MM-per-year pact can reasonably be viewed as a Gesicki target, with the Dolphins tight end producing two seasons — yardage-wise — that outpaced Njoku’s best year. Even before Njoku’s extension, the Dolphins and their tagged tight end were not close on a re-up. The Dolphins hold $16.5MM in cap space.
Mike McDaniel reshaped the Dolphins’ offense this offseason, and on just a $10.9MM franchise tender, the Penn State product makes sense as a rental piece. This represents a crucial year for Tua Tagovailoa, and the Dolphins kept one of his top targets off the market. Gesicki, 26, could join this year’s other tagged tight end as a 2023 free agent. It would cost the Dolphins 120% of this year’s tight end tag figure to cuff Gesicki again in 2023.
The Cowboys frequently hammer out extensions, preferring deals that last at least five years. That preference has impacted the Schultz talks, with the Njoku contract undoubtedly factoring into this equation as well. Throughout the offseason, the Cowboys and Schultz have not been close on an agreement. Schultz, 26, did not finish OTAs with the team, citing dissatisfaction with his contract talks for leaving. He later circled back for mandatory minicamp. Despite little momentum emerging for much of the offseason, these negotiations still have a chance of producing an agreement ahead of Friday’s deadline. The Cowboys hold $22.5MM in cap space; Schultz has signed his tender.
Unlike Gesicki’s situation, the tight end tag talks in Dallas have continued throughout the offseason. The $10.9MM payment obviously represents a major raise for the former fourth-round pick, but as Blake Jarwin‘s injury issues have shown, players can lose value quickly. The Cowboys paid Jarwin ahead of his career-altering injuries, and Schultz has been a far more effective weapon, as evidenced by his 808-yard, eight-touchdown 2021 season. The Cowboys were wise to keep him off this year’s market, with Amari Cooper being traded and Michael Gallup unlikely to start the season on time.
If Schultz and the Cowboys cannot agree on terms by Friday, his status as a key Dak Prescott target stands to position the Stanford alum for a big payday as a 2023 UFA. Then again, the Cowboys have re-tagged multiple players — Prescott and DeMarcus Lawrence — over the past five years.
The tight end will earn $10.9MM in 2022 in the absence of a long-term extension. That figure would represent a substantial raise from his rookie contract earnings, but the position’s market has been boosted this offseason by David Njoku‘s unexpectedly lucrative extension in particular. That has likely influenced contract talks between Dallas and the former fourth-rounder failing to pick up much traction.
However, an eleventh-hour breakthrough remains possible. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo notes how talks have continued throughout much of the offseason, and predicts that further discussions will take place this week (video link). More specifically, he is “[keeping] open the possibility of a long-term deal” being agreed upon before the deadline on July 15.
That would represent a stark contrast to where things currently stand between Gesicki and the Dolphins, and the tone struck by Schultz himself as this process has played out. The soon-to-be 26-year-old skipped part of the team’s OTAs while he was frustrated by the progress of negotiations; he did, however, report to minicamp.
If Schultz does end up playing on the tag, he will have the chance to put together a second straight campaign with significant production. He emerged as a focal point in the Cowboys’ offense in 2021, registering 78 catches, 808 yards and eight touchdowns. Duplicating those figures could be made easier by the absence of Amari Cooper, and the subsequent uptick in targets Schultz could see in 2022.
If he does land a multi-year pact, though, the Stanford alum could join the seven-player club of TEs averaging at least $12.5MM per season. How much the Cowboys (who rank third in the league in 2022 cap space) are willing to compensate Schultz will dictate how this situation ends later this week.
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.
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.
Negotiations often gain steam just ahead of the July deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions, but the Cowboys may be content with a rental year with Schultz. The fifth-year tight end is likely to play the season on the tag, Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes.
Frustrations with extension talks during OTAs, Schultz made a point to let the team know by skipping the final set of voluntary offseason work. Nothing leading up to minicamp suggested the sides were close on terms.
The Cowboys seeing if a former fourth-round pick can duplicate the kind of season he had in 2021 (78 receptions, 808 yards, eight touchdowns) makes sense, especially given the potential price hike connected to David Njoku‘s $14.2MM-per-year Browns extension. Schultz’s 2021 slate was better than any of Njoku’s seasons, and the Cowboys are keeping their top tight end from cashing in ahead of his age-26 season. Schultz has signed his franchise tender and will not exactly go under-compensated in 2022, being tied to a $10.9MM tag salary.
A tagged season would bring a prime opportunity for Schultz, who may see his place in Dallas’ passing-game hierarchy rise in prominence. The Amari Cooper trade bumped up CeeDee Lamb to the clear-cut No. 1 receiver role. After Lamb, a host of secondary options are present. But former 1,000-yard receiver Michael Gallup is coming off a late-season ACL tear, one expected to sideline him into the upcoming campaign. That said, Gallup might not need to begin the season on the PUP list, Archer adds. Even if Gallup regains form fairly early this year, Schultz will be a key player for the Cowboys.
Dallas’ previous tight end extension — a four-year, $22MM extension for Blake Jarwin — did not work out, after the then-starter’s injury issues changed his career trajectory. Schultz stepped in to bail out the franchise, producing on a Day 3 rookie salary. With a second tag costing 120% of Schultz’s 2022 salary, Jarwin’s successor would have a better chance to reach free agency next year. Mike Gesickicould join Schultz in that boat, if the Dolphins do not extend him by July 15. But if one of these two is extended by then, the other would have a good chance at being the top tight end available next year.
While not much has developed on the Mike Gesicki-Dolphins front, the Cowboys’ tagged tight end has voiced his displeasure with his current situation this offseason. Dalton Schultz attended some Cowboys OTA sessions but skipped others, making it known his contract was at the root of the absences. The Cowboys may have gotten the message.
Talks between the Cowboys and their fifth-year tight end have picked up recently, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets, noting Schultz reported to Dallas’ minicamp Tuesday. It is not known how close the Cowboys and Schultz are on a long-term deal, as they were far apart recently. But the parties have time. Nearly every year, negotiations seemingly headed nowhere produce a deal ahead of the July 15 deadline.
Njoku’s $14.2MM-per-year pact has undoubtedly generated attention from tight ends around the league, though it directly affects Schultz and Gesicki. Both are attached to the $10.91MM tight end tag price. Each has outproduced Njoku’s best Browns season, yardage-wise. A fourth-round pick in 2018, the soon-to-be 26-year-old Schultz was not groomed to be Dallas’ long-term tight end starter the way Njoku was in Cleveland. But Blake Jarwin‘s injury trouble opened the door for the Stanford product, who has responded with 1,423 yards and 12 touchdown catches over the past two seasons.
The Cowboys picked up $10MM in cap space on June 2, receiving the belated funding from their March La’el Collins cut. As a result, Dallas’ $22.5MM in cap room sits fourth in the NFL. Schultz collecting an eight-figure paycheck represents a nice bonus for a former Day 3 pick who made $2.2MM last season. It would be understandable if the Cowboys are skittish about giving Schultz an extension that tops Njoku’s, while it also makes sense for the 6-foot-5 pass catcher — after Amari Cooper‘s exit and ahead of a season in which Michael Gallupwill not be 100% at the outset — to lobby for a top-five deal at the position. Schultz could also enhance his value for 2023 with a big season, as he again will be a key Dak Prescott target, if he ends up playing on the tag. Albeit in a much higher-profile situation, this strategy worked for Prescott two years ago.
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 NFL.com tweets.
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.