FRISCO, Texas – Dalton Schultz knows he's a Dallas Cowboy for at least one more year. He's happy with that.
A long-term deal might come. That would be even better.
But the fifth-year tight end's biggest focus is building on his career 2021 season -- a process that ramps up this week with the start of the voluntary offseason program.
Schultz and his teammates are limited to strength and conditioning work these first two weeks, but organized team activities (OTAs) are just around the corner.
After setting career highs in catches (78), receiving yards (808) and touchdowns (8) last year, Schultz wants to expand his entire game for a Cowboys offense that's in semi-transition after trading four-time Pro Bowl receiver Amari Cooper to the Browns and losing super-sub Cedrick Wilson to the Dolphins in free agency.
"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 said. "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."
That includes the fine details as a route runner and more consistent technique as a run and pass blocker. For the latter, Schultz said he's gained about five or six pounds to improve his strength against defensive linemen.
His production in the passing game, particularly the past two years, has stood out most. He has emerged as a primary underneath option for quarterback Dak Prescott. Last season, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb led the team with 79 catches on 120 targets. Schultz and Cooper tied for second with 104 targets.
The Cowboys will need more from both players in order to replace Cooper.
"Obviously Amari is one of the best receivers in the league, just personal opinion," Schultz said. "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."
OTAs don't start until next month, but Schultz said Prescott and the Cowboys skill players have gotten in some throwing reps on their own this offseason. That's a boost from last year, when Prescott was still rehabbing from the ankle injury he suffered in 2020.
"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. "We're definitely ahead of where we were last year."
As for Schultz, who recently signed his one-year, $10.4 million franchise tag, he said it's a "good start" toward hopefully a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 15 to negotiate before Schultz would have to play the 2022 season on the tag.
"Obviously I think this is the place that I want to be," he said. "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.