The Dallas Cowboys have a list of impending free agents to make decisions on in the near future. From Randy Gregory to Jayron Kearse to Michael Gallup, there is only so much money to go around.

Dalton Schultz is one of the more interesting free agents on the Dallas Cowboys roster. He is a player that the Cowboys will likely want to bring back, but his price tag could be potentially too much for Dallas to swallow.

The 2018 fourth-rounder quickly went from a reserve role behind Blake Jarwin to stepping into a starting position when Jarwin went down week one of the 2020 season. Schultz played well in the larger role, but it was this past season where he took off in a big way.

Schultz had a breakout campaign in 2021 with Dak Prescott playing the full season. The Stanford product took advantage of his starting spot by grabbing 78 passes for 808 yards and eight touchdowns. Prescott trusted him in the middle of the field, and Schultz excelled.

With Schultz set to hit the open market, he has the opportunity to cash-in on his impressive season. The former fourth-round selection finally has the chance to get paid, and teams will likely want to pay-up for a tight end that is a true weapon in the passing game.

SCHULTZ’S VALUE AND FRANCHISE TAG

Dallas Cowboys
Jan 16, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz (86) runs the ball after a catch during the second half of the NFC Wild Card playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Spotrac currently sets Schultz’s market value at $12.6 million per year with a contract of four-years, $50.7 million. That would mean Schultz would sign a deal in the same ballpark as when Mark Andrews, Dallas Goedert, and Hunter Henry signed their respective contracts.

Additionally, Spotrac projects the franchise tag for tight ends to be worth $11 million. Which, of course, would be less than what Schultz’s value would look to be worth on the open market.

Furthermore, it was reported this week that the Dallas Cowboys feel good about where they stand with impending free agent pass rusher Randy Gregory. Gregory, due to his positional value and raw talent, could demand a big pay day in free agency.

That would mean Dallas could use the franchise tag on the 29-year-old defender. However, if Jerry Jones is correct about Gregory’s history with the Cowboys ‘serving (the Cowboys) well’, then perhaps the Cowboys could use the tag elsewhere.

Therefore, Schultz could be the best bet if that is the route the Cowboys take. The franchise tag is not only lower than his projected market value, it is also significantly cheaper than placing the tag on a pass rusher (Gregory) or a wide receiver (Michael Gallup).

Dalton Schultz is an important piece to the Cowboys offense. It certainly makes sense for Dallas to want to bring him back. Look for the Dallas Cowboys to use the most cost-effective strategies when free agency opens next month.

Featured image via Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports