Skip to main content

Dalton Schultz Shines in Cowboys' Playoff Loss; Should Jets Pounce in Free Agency?

Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz shined in a postseason loss to the San Francisco 49ers, showing the New York Jets who they should target in free agency.

Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz saved his best game of the season for Sunday's postseason thriller against the 49ers.

The former fourth-round pick set a new season-high, leading his team with 89 receiving yards, hauling in seven passes from Dak Prescott in the loss to San Francisco. 

It seemed like whenever Dallas needed a big play, Prescott looked Schultz's way and converted. 

Schultz took his game to the next level during the final few minutes of the dramatic playoff contest as well. This play to start Dallas' drive down a score with less than three minutes remaining was huge, a gain of 38 down the sideline. 

All season long, Schultz was a weapon for the Cowboys on offense. The Stanford product had a career year, finishing the regular season with 808 receiving yards on 78 catches (104 targets) with eight touchdowns. He had more receiving yards than all but five other tight ends in the NFL, flexing his durability by playing in all 17 games. 

That brings us to the Jets. 

In 2021, New York leaned on tight ends Ryan Griffin (261 receiving yards) and Tyler Kroft (173 yards). Undrafted free agent Kenny Yeboah secured his first two NFL catches (for 36 yards) in Week 17 against the Buccaneers.

New York needs to make a move to bolster their tight end room this offseason. It's been far too long since the Jets have had production from that spot. 

It's especially pertinent now with Mike LaFleur's offense going forward. Adding a talented tight end to the mix with Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and more wreaking havoc on the outside, second-year quarterback Zach Wilson would be in a prime position to excel under center. 

Further, with a quarterback that loves to leave the pocket and make off-script plays, check out Schultz's ability to enter a second gear, staying on the same page with his QB. A tight end getting open on short and intermediate routes would be invaluable for Wilson, who struggled with his decision-making and completion percentage as a rookie.

Schultz might not be in the top tier of tight ends—depending on who you ask—but he's going to be one of the very best available at the position this offseason. Pro Football Focus ranks Schultz as the second-best tight end set to enter free agency (23rd overall from this free agent class) behind only Miami's Mike Gesicki.

Scroll to Continue

RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

Here's a snipper from PFF's free-agent evaluation of Schultz:

STARTING TIGHT END ON TEAM WITH GOOD WEAPONS: Schultz has produced in a Dallas system that has multiple playmakers who keep the defense honest and that's his best bet for future receiving production. He's a good blocker, so he can provide value in that area, and he can work the middle of the field at the short and intermediate levels.

On paper, he seems like a solid fit for New York. Even better if they can acquire a top wide receiver to draw even more attention from opposing secondaries.

READ: Calvin Ridley to Jets? NFL Insider Predicts Falcons Star WR Will Be Traded

Whoever signs Schultz this offseason will need to pay the price of admission. PFF predicts the tight end will receive a four-year deal worth $45 million ($11.25M per year, $25.25 million total guaranteed). You're paying for his dependability, his run blocking and his potential to get even better, the upside he flashed on Sunday.

For New York, it'll come down to the draft. The Jets will work with a few talented tight ends—namely Trey McBride—during next month's Senior Bowl and will have plenty of opportunities to pick a top-ranked prospect at the position in April's draft. 

Will general manager Joe Douglas and his staff be satisfied with an unproven asset coming out of school or do they want to surround Wilson with another experienced target, a player that recently produced at a high level with a contender?

MORE:

Follow Max Goodman on Twitter (@MaxTGoodman), be sure to bookmark Jets Country and check back daily for news, analysis and more.