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Progress Report: Dalton Schultz's Breakout Moment


(Editor's Note: NFL rosters change wildly from year to year. This year will be no different, as the Cowboys seek to upgrade their roster via free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft. Still, a large percentage of their roster is already in place, and they'll have plenty of work to do to improve last season's 6-10 record. In the coming weeks, the staff of will evaluate those players who are already under contract, examining their past performance and future outlook. Today, we continue the series with tight end Dalton Schultz.)

The Good: The NFL is about "next man up." Injuries happen, and a hard salary cap makes quality depth imperative. Schultz embodied "next man up" when Blake Jarwin suffered a torn ACL just 14 snaps into his first season as the starting tight end. Schultz, a fourth-round pick out of Stanford in 2018, played minimal snaps his first two seasons with the Cowboys. In 2020, he produced career highs across the board: 84.8% of the offensive snaps and 63 catches for 615 yards and 4 touchdowns. Schultz became only the fifth tight end in Cowboys history to post at least 50 catches in a season. He also made a strides as a blocker in the run game and pass protection.

The Bad: Hard to nitpick Schultz's year given the role he expected to have before the season and the role he built as an efficient option underneath for four Cowboys quarterbacks who started games. He did have five drops – tied for 12th in the league, according to STATS – and the Cowboys as a team led the league with 31. That number obviously needs to drop in 2021.

Best Of 2020: The way Schultz bounced back from two key drops in the Cowboys' season-opening loss to the Rams. With a full week to prepare for starting snaps after Jarwin's injury, Schultz delivered a career-high nine catches for 88 yards and his first NFL touchdown catch in the Cowboys' wild 40-39 comeback win over the Falcons. He was responsible for one of the team's three fumbles in the first quarter that led to a huge deficit, but he responded in the fourth quarter with three catches on a 75-yard touchdown drive that began a 16-0 run.

Contract Consideration: Schultz is entering the final season of his four-year rookie contract that includes a $2.18 million base salary, according to Spotrac.

What's Next: Jarwin is on his way back from the knee injury, and Schultz has shown he be productive in a starting role. That means the Cowboys have a solid duo on paper for next season. It remains to seen how offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will divide the snaps among all the Cowboys skill players – the offense went with three wide receivers (11 personnel) 71% of the snaps last season, tied for the sixth-most in the league, according to Sharp Football Stats – but Moore has two solid options at the tight end spot no matter which personnel package he uses.

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