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Identifying the 3 best landing spots for Dalton Schultz in NFL free agency

Dalton Schultz
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys placed the franchise tag on Dalton Schultz for the 2022 NFL season. One year later, Schultz is now one of the top NFL free agents remaining and he’s looking for an opportunity to expand his role in an offense.

Schultz played very well this past season, earning the franchise tag and exceeding the wildest expectations Dallas had when it drafted him with the 137th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. While many of his peers at the position are either productive pass-catchers or reliable blockers, Schultz is capable of doing both for his next NFL team.

As we look across the league, there are a number of NFL teams that need a tight end. More offenses are using two tight end sets and while the 2023 NFL Draft class is historically deep at the position, there’s always a sharp learning curve for rookie tight ends.

Here are the 3 best landing spots for Dalton Schultz in NFL free agents.

Houston Texans

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
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Any NFL team that spends a top-two pick on a quarterback is starting them in Week 1. Whether the Houston Texans draft C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young at No. 2 overall, they must create a good supporting cast around the rookie. Young passers, especially those who won’t take off for a lot of runs, like having a check-down target to pick up chunks of yards. Schultz can play that role for the Texans’ rookie quarterback.

Schultz drew 60.5 percent of his targets between 0-9 yards of the line of scrimmage, per Pro Football Focus. The 6-foot-5 tight end hauled in 40-of-52 targets in that area of the field, earning a 93.2 PFF receiving grade with 6.15 yards per route run and a 103 passer rating when he was targeted. In short, he’s the perfect security blanket.

The Texans have the cap space to sign Schultz to a two-year contract, offering him the opportunity to be one of the key pieces in the offense. Houston’s offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik saw how important tight ends are in a passing attack with the San Francisco 49ers and Schultz can be a go-to for targets in the middle of the field.

Green Bay Packers

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers
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The Green Bay Packers went into NFL free agency prepared to lose Robert Tonyan, who didn’t look the same a year removed from his ACL tear. However, recent seasons with head coach Matt LaFleur have proven that he places significant value on tight ends.

Related: Green Bay Packers draft picks 2023

Signing Schultz, likely to a three-year contract with a $13 million average annual value, wouldn’t break the bank for Green Bay. It would also provide general manager Brian Gutekunst with a little more flexibility to operate in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs can serve as the vertical threats in LaFleur’s offense, making plays after the catch. However, quarterback Jordan Love will need that safety option he can trust when there is too much pressure in his face. Plus, Schultz is a quality run blocker for his position and that’s a huge plus for an offense that should be more run-heavy in 2023.

Cincinnati Bengals

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Tennessee Titans
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The Cincinnati Bengals signed tight end Hayden Hurst in March 2022 with an eye on the 6-foot-4 tight end becoming a reliable complementary pass-catching weapon in their offense. While not everything went according to plan, Hurst was a very productive player when healthy. Now, Cincinnati has an opportunity to upgrade the position.

  • Dalton Schultz career stats: 211 receptions, 2,122 receiving yards, 17 touchdowns

Schultz is both a better run blocker and a better receiver than Hurst. Keep in mind, Hurst averaged 5.5 targets and 8.43 yards per reception in 11 games with the Bengals before injuries slowed him down. Joe Burrow likes having that tight end he can get the football out quickly to for first downs because that extends drives and provides him more chances to hit Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase for explosive plays.

Cincinnati’s run blocking would improve with Schultz on the field and he could be the best tight end the team has had in several years. If the Bengals are serious about putting the best roster around Burrow they can, Schultz needs to be signed.