Of all the Cowboys' free agents, I am most torn about Dalton Schultz. Good player, good year, good chemistry with Dak Prescott, and he stepped up in the playoffs. But re-signing him will likely be expensive, and I also thought the younger tight ends, Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot, showed tons of promise. How critical is Dalton Schultz to the Cowboys next season? – Peter Malliris/Eugene, OR
Nick: I think it was more critical last year because they knew Amari Cooper wasn't gonna be in the plans so they needed as many weapons as possible in the passing game. This year, it's different with CeeDee Lamb more established and Michael Gallup expected to contribute more. Plus, you've got the two tight ends you mentioned. More than Ferguson, I think the emergence of Hendershot gives them the flexibility to either move on from Schultz or at least be firm on an offer to him. To me, Ferguson is very similar to Schultz in the way they play. Not saying Ferguson is ready to put up those kind of numbers, but let's not forget Schultz had like 13 catches in his first two seasons combined. But Hendershot gives them some down-field flexibility and with that, it probably makes the position a little deeper than they expected. On top of that, it sounds like a deep pool of tight ends in the Draft so you can always go that route as well.
Mickey: Well, that is the balance that must be weighed, how critical vs. how much. Market value will dictate the answer if the two sides can't negotiate something equitable ahead of time before free agency begins on March 15. I'm sure the Cowboys and Dak Prescott would love to have Schultz return. But remember, this is a business, and as a five-year veteran he must make his bottom line a priority. And you are right, the Cowboys always talk about being a draft and develop team, and they did acquire two fine rookie tight ends last year. So, another judgment must be made, how much will it cost to re-sign Schultz vs. what they think Ferguson and Hendershot can give them instead. Tough decision.