Dalton Schultz has apparently made his decision regarding mandatory minicamp, and it’s not one that should surprise many — if anyone at all. After initially reporting to the voluntary OTAs, the veteran tight end opted to skip the back end of the workouts in silent protest of the lack of progress on contract talks with the Dallas Cowboys, leaving them to wonder if he’d also sit out minicamp from June 14 through June 16, and they now have their answer. Schultz is expected to report on Tuesday, sources tell CBS Sports, ending his short-lived holdout.
Having already signed his franchise tag for 2022, one that will pay him just under $11 million fully guaranteed, it was a curious decision for Schultz to entertain holding out at all.
Given the circumstances, i.e., the tag having already been signed, he placed himself under contract for next season and, as such, would have been subject to nearly $100,000 in fines if he was absent the entirety of minicamp — those fines ballooning to $50,000 per day if he chose to continue his supposed holdout into training camp when it rolls around in late July.
And considering the deadline for he and the Cowboys to reach an agreement on a new deal is July 15, any holdout beyond that date (while under a signed franchise tag) would’ve been wholly moot from a leverage standpoint. In the end, and with the assistance of the 2020 collective bargaining agreement’s stranglehold on any possible holdout from a player who is under contract, Schultz had/has only one option: show up or begin carving large chunks of pay out of a deal that is currently only of the one-year variety.
So, he’s going to show up.
Other than operating on frustration and principle, there wasn’t much to be gained by Schultz in missing reps this summer and potentially beyond, but there was much to be lost, and that potentially includes his seat as TE1 in Dallas. An extended absence by Schultz would clear the way for more reps from talented young upstart Sean McKeon and rookie fourth-round pick Jake Ferguson, both of whom could be vying to replace Schultz as early as 2023 — barring a long-term extension being signed.
While the Cowboys ideally want Schultz on the field in 2022 (hence applying the tag in the first place), the presence of McKeon combines with the selection of Ferguson and Schultz’s decision to sign the tag to lessen their sense of urgency in getting a multi-year deal done, especially if the numbers being tossed their way are similar to that of what the Cleveland Browns paid David Njoku (four years, $56.75 million max value).
With still over one month to the July deadline, there is still time for progress to be made, but with the Cowboys are far less pressed about the matter now than they were three months ago and, as such, Schultz will likely either take less to remain in Dallas beyond 2022; or be forced to prove he can replicate or improve upon his career-best 2021 season, with the hopes of landing big money in 2023.
And staging a lengthy holdout would’ve been counterproductive to that goal.