The Dallas Cowboys have been making moves this offseason, looking to bolster a roster that won 12 games and reached the divisional round of the playoffs. They brought on veterans in Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks. They put the franchise tag on running back Tony Pollard and re-signed backup quarterback Cooper Rush in case Dak Prescott gets injured again.
Of course, as every team does, the Cowboys also released some players. They parted ways with longtime running back Ezekiel Elliott and said goodbye to tight end Dalton Schultz.
That proved to be a costly decision for Schultz.
Before last season, the Cowboys put the franchise tag on Schultz. He made $10.9 million; if the Cowboys franchised him again this season, he’d make $13.1 million.
Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated recently wrote a roundup of some of the NFL’s biggest free agency transactions. Per Breer, Schultz at one point turned down a three-year, $36 million deal, instead choosing to bet on himself in 2023. Schultz’s agent initially replied to a tweet reporting the news that it was “100% inaccurate.”
Whether the Cowboys ever offered Schultz a deal or not, he’ll take a pay cut this season. After about a week of not landing with a team, Schultz agreed to sign with the Houston Texans. The team offered him a one-year deal worth up to $9 million. He’ll get $6.5 million in salary and could potentially earn another $2.5 million in incentives.
In the best-case scenario, Schultz will make about $1.9 million less than he made last season. And if he (or his agent) did turn down that three-year offer, he’ll be making $27 million less over the length of the contract.
Yet this situation is not as doom and gloom as it seems. Schultz is essentially betting on himself again this season. He’ll be 27 next offseason, which is still in the prime years for a tight end. While no one will argue Houston is closer to a championship than Dallas, Schultz will likely get more pass-catching opportunities on the Texans. He could turn a solid 2023 season into a larger payday.
It appears betting on himself didn’t work out. But Schultz has a chance to double down this season — and that’s not an opportunity every player gets.