Once again, the Cowboys find themselves with over 20 players who have expiring contracts. But still, there's a large percentage of players on the roster already in place. Over the next few weeks, the staff writers will evaluate those players under contract, reviewing their past performances with an outlook to the future. Today, we'll continue the series with tight end Jake Ferguson.
What Worked: The fourth-round draft pick out of Wisconsin instantly became a fan favorite amongst Cowboys fans for a multitude of reasons. In 16 games (eight starts) Ferguson tallied 19 catches on 22 targets for 174 yards and two touchdowns. While at first glance those numbers don't jump off the page, Ferguson did show a propensity for the big play with an average of over nine yards per catch while also showing flashes of being able to produce in the run blocking department.
Needs Some Work: While Ferguson showed promise as a legitimate starting tight end, the biggest thing for him going into this second season with the Cowboys in 2023 will be to simply get more reps. The 24-year-old played in just 40% of the offensive snaps taken in games he played in, but with Dalton Schultz potentially departing in free agency that will likely change, giving him an opportunity to expand and grow his role in the passing game moving forward.
His Best Work: Ferguson showed plenty of athleticism in a handful of plays across his rookie campaign, but there is one that stands out above the rest. Perhaps nobody had a better Thanksgiving Day in 2022 than Ferguson did, given that he hurdled and cleared a Giants defender on a 30-yard catch… And then was a part of the best touchdown celebration of the season on the very same drive.
Contract Consideration: The Cowboys drafted Ferguson in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, signing him to a four-year contract totaling out to $4.3 million. His base salary for 2023 will increase to $870,000 before jumping again to $985,000 in 2024 and eclipsing the $1.1 million threshold in 2025.
What's Next: With the possibility of Dalton Schultz departing in free agency this offseason after playing on the franchise tag this past season, Ferguson could be primed to take over the starting tight end position or splitting time with fellow rookie tight end Peyton Hendershot. Ferguson has a chance to make a big leap in his second year, something that is not uncommon among Cowboys tight ends. Jason Witten caught 35 passes as a rookie before recording 87 catches in Year 2. Schultz actually had 12 receptions as a rookie and then one in his second year, before having 63, 78 and 57 receptions in his next three seasons.