Dalton Schultz is coming off a career year for the Dallas Cowboys, and it’s expected the former Bingham High star will cash in with a lucrative new deal this offseason when he’s expected to enter free agency.
Zach Wilson is coming off a rookie season with the New York Jets full of plenty of frustration and learning moments while mixed with some promise after the former BYU and Corner Canyon High quarterback was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft.
Could the two Utah natives become teammates in New York?
The 6-foot-5, 244-pound Schultz is ranked among the best available NFL free agents heading into the free agency period, which starts March 16 — ESPN has him at No. 23, while Pro Football Focus has him at No. 21.
He is among the most coveted tight ends expected to hit the market, along with Miami’s Mike Gesicki.
Why Schultz could fit in with the Jets
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Matt Bowen believe Schultz, who will be an unrestricted free agent, would be an ideal fit to join Wilson with the Jets.
“Expect the Jets to be in the market for a safety valve over the middle for Zach Wilson, either in the draft or free agency. Dallas wants to re-sign Schultz, perhaps the most complete tight end in the class, but it can’t keep everybody,” Fowler wrote.
The Jets struggled to find reliable receiving options during the 2021 season, particularly at the tight end position.
Wilson, who missed three games due to injury, completed 55.6% of his passes for 2,334 yards, nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his first pro season. He had a 3-10 record as the team’s starter.
Schultz was one of Dak Prescott’s favorite targets in Dallas during this past season, when the Utah native had career-highs in receptions (78), receiving yards (808) and touchdowns (eight).
That kind of reliable option across the middle could help the younger Wilson as he tries to build his confidence at the pro level.
“Schultz can operate as a middle-of-the-field target for Wilson on play-action throws, and he’s slippery after the catch. Schultz plays with good coverage recognition and is a much-needed upgrade at the position in Mike LaFleur’s offense. Plus, he is an adequate run blocker,” Bowen wrote.
Last year, the Jets’ top tight ends were Ryan Griffin (27 receptions, 261 yards, two touchdowns), and Tyler Kroft (16 receptions, 173 yards, one touchdown), which illustrates the room for improvement New York can make at that position.
The Jets will have the flexibility to add multiple players in free agency, as well: New York is projected to have over $44 million in cap space, according to SpoTrac, fifth-most in the league.
What is the market value for Schultz?
SpoTrac predicts Schultz’s value to be somewhere in the market of a four-year, $50.7 million deal, with an annual salary around $12.6 million.
By comparison, he made $2.1 million this past season, his fourth with the Cowboys after being a fourth-round pick in 2018.
Pro Football Focus noted that Schultz has played in every game for Dallas over the past two seasons, and that includes the third-most snaps by a tight end with 973 in 2020.
“Schultz was a backup until 2020 and he didn’t break out until 2021 where he’s been one of the better all-around tight ends in the league. He’s a mid-tier starter who has shown that he can be a dependable receiver and run-blocker,” PFF wrote.