The Cowboys have made it clear they expect to use the franchise tag once again this offseason.
While Tony Pollard seems like the most logical choice to be tagged, it doesn't sound as if the Cowboys seem too interested in giving the tag to Dalton Schultz for a second straight year.
Now, that doesn't mean the team won't at least try to re-sign the veteran tight end. But giving him the franchise tag for a second year would cost them $13.1 million.
But speaking at the scouting combine in Indy on Friday, Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones the team hasn't figured out exactly how the tight end might fit in this new offense with Mike McCarthy and Brian Schottenheimer.
"Tight end, and of course Dalton, is very important," Jones said. "But it's important to remind everyone that we have other players involved here. I think we're fortunate to have the young players that we had last year really step up."
Those players Jones is referencing is 2022 rookies Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot. Both of them flashed plenty of potential in their opportunities behind Schultz.
Jones didn't say he's ready to move on from Schultz, but sounded as if he's still trying to figure out the role of the tight end overall.
"I'm not going to be as emphatic (about the position) until we have a few more days really establishing what we want the tight end position to be, with what we're doing with our adjusting and whatever we're doing with the offense," Jones said.
Jones recalled plenty of visits over the years with different head coaches about trying to determine the true value of a tight end. He told a story how Barry Switzer once said that even with a team that included Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Deion Sanders, that losing Jay Novacek to retirement in 1996 might have been "the most important part of the offense."
Obviously, Jones saw the value Jason Witten brought to the table for so long. He also mentioned how Travis Kelce in Kansas City is a "difference-maker" for the Super Bowl champs. Even in the Cowboys' playoff loss to the 49ers, San Francisco tight end George Kittle was the biggest threat to the Cowboys' secondary.
Schultz has 211 catches in five years, but 198 have occurred in the last three seasons. He had five TD catches this past season, but became the first tight end in team history to have three TD receptions in a single postseason, including two in the road win over the Bucs.
Still, the Cowboys could be better suited to find an alternative route, especially with Hendershot and Ferguson showing promise.
"Right now, it's a hard answer to find," Jones said of figuring out the role of the tight end. "I'll make sure that we've assessed that role and where we want to be."