The Dallas Cowboys have shown their commitment to retain Dalton Schultz, as the organization designated him with the franchise tag on Tuesday.

The former Bingham High star was set to be an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins March 16, but the Cowboys gave themselves the leverage to work a long-term deal by placing the franchise tag on Schultz.

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What’s the franchise tag?

NFL teams are permitted to use a franchise tag on one pending free agent each year to tender that player on a one-year deal worth a salary comparable to what the top players at their position earn. 

The deadline to designate a player for the franchise tag was Tuesday. There were eight teams who designated someone as a nonexclusive franchise player, including tight ends for two other teams — David Njoku with the Cleveland Browns and Mike Gesicki with the Miami Dolphins.

As a nonexclusive franchise player, another team could sign Schultz as a free agent, but it would have to give up two first-round picks or put together a compelling enough package for Dallas to consider trading him, according to ESPN.

What he’ll make in comparison to past years

The franchise tender for tight ends this year is $10.931 million, per NFL.com.

Using the franchise tag on Schultz allows Dallas the chance to sign the tight end to a long-term deal before a mid-July deadline. Otherwise, he will play the 2022 season on the franchise tag.

For Schultz, a fourth-round draft pick in 2018, that is a significant pay raise.  

On his four-year rookie contract, Schultz earned $2.91 million, including an average annual salary of $728,090, per Spotrac.

Schultz’s progress as a pro

The Utah native has developed into an invaluable part of the Cowboys’ offense, particularly the past two seasons.

Schultz had a breakout season in 2021, with career highs in receptions (78), yards (808) and touchdowns (8) while serving as one of Dak Prescott’s most reliable targets.

“Dalton Schultz has played a tremendous amount of football for us the last two years and has been extremely productive and he’s a part of everything,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy told ESPN last week during the NFL combine.