Dalton Schultz has officially signed his franchise tender with the Dallas Cowboys -- guaranteeing he'll be in uniform for the 2022 NFL season. That works out well for an organization that recently parted ways with one-time playmaking tight end Blake Jarwin, following hip surgery that could keep him out of football for next season and possibly beyond, because while they're now in the market for another talented TE in this year's NFL draft, they at least have their starter in place; and the divorce from Amari Cooper likely means Schultz will get a lot more work going forward.
The four-time Pro Bowl receiver was shipped to the Cleveland Browns this offseason via trade, thrusting Schultz more so into the limelight than he's ever been, and even he admits the offense is initially taking a step back in losing Cooper; which also combines with the loss of Cedrick Wilson in free agency to the Miami Dolphins. The Cowboys were able to re-sign Michael Gallup on a five-year deal, but Gallup might miss the season opener in his recovery from a torn ACL, and the addition of James Washington in free agency doesn't immediately appear to fill the void left by Cooper (or Wilson).
For his part, Schultz believes the Browns just acquired an elite wideout in Cooper.
"Obviously, Amari is one of the best receivers in the league, just personal opinion," Schultz said from Cowboys OTAs, via the team's official website. "Obviously, we're a better offense with him. Unfortunately, we don't have him, and so I think the next step is just having guys step up.
"But yeah, I think there's room to grow in a bunch of other aspects in the game."
That includes having added at least five pounds to his frame to bulk up and hopefully improve on his blocking, as well as refining his skills as a receiver -- the latter having included attending George Kittle's .
"I've been watching a lot of film on not only on myself and our games but some other guys around the league, just trying to pick and pull different parts from their game," Schultz added. "It's a constant process of just trying to improve yourself as a player in any way that I can. I'm looking to do that in all facets of my game."
The former fourth-round pick has already begun work this offseason with another former fourth-round pick, namely two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott, with the two getting in some pre-offseason program reps ahead of OTAs. Prescott, who is now fully healthy and in the building for voluntary OTAs, is hoping to build that much more chemistry with Schultz, and the foundation is certainly there when considering the tight end was his most-targeted receiver in 2021. One year ago, Prescott was working his way back onto the field from a season-ending ankle fracture, but there are no physical setbacks this time around.
Prescott is a full go for the entire offseason program.
"I think where he's at with his health and everything compared to last year when he was still in rehab, we've had ample opportunities to get out on the field and throw with a few guys and just kind of start that process back up," Schultz said of Prescott. "We're definitely ahead of where we were last year."
And as for the fully-guaranteed, one-year franchise tag ($10.4 million)? Schultz and the Cowboys still have until July 15 to strike a multi-year deal that will secure him beyond 2022, and both sides remain motivated to see it happen.
"Obviously, I think this is the place that I want to be," said Schultz. "I've got a good rapport with a lot of the guys here. I love being here. I love this organization.
"I was grateful that I was able to at least come back here for a year. I want to work out a long-term deal and I think they do too. -- hopefully we can get that done. But just knowing where I'm going to be for the next year, I'm happy with."