OXNARD, Calif. -- Dalton Schultz is at training camp for the Dallas Cowboys, but absent a long-term deal. He and the organization failed to come to terms on a contract that would both negate his 2022 franchise tag and tie him to the team's roster beyond the 2022 season, but that doesn't necessarily mean talks can't and won't reignite in 2023 -- the July 15 deadline having now passed to accomplish anything ahead of this coming season.
But, for his part, team executive Stephen Jones remains firm in his belief that, eventually, a deal with get done.
"[Schultz] represents everything we want in a Dallas Cowboy — on and off the field," said Jones, speaking at the start of Cowboys training camp. "It's not that we don't want him on a long-term deal. … I think it's going to happen."
It's unknown if the Cowboys would issue a second tag to Schultz as a means of buying time in the second round of negotiations, considering his current salary comes in at $10.931 million, because a second tag would cost them 120% of that amount ($13.12 million). There's a good chance Schultz would avoid signing a potential second tag as swiftly as he signed the first, however, given the fact he siphoned away his own leverage in doing so this time around.
The 26-year-old will enter this year's camp knowing he's again walking into a pivotal season in Dallas, if not the most pivotal of his soon-to-be five-year career. With the team's use of a fourth-round pick (the same investment initially used on Schultz) on rookie tight end Jake Ferguson and the renewed health of a promising upstart in Sean McKeon, it's officially an all-out competition for the role of TE1 in 2023 (if not a bit sooner).
Schultz did make it clear long ago where he'd like to play football for the foreseeable future.
"Obviously, I think this is the place that I want to be," he said in April. "I've got a good rapport with a lot of the guys here. I love being here. I love this organization.
"I was grateful that I was able to at least come back here for a year. I want to work out a long-term deal and I think they do too -- hopefully we can get that done. But just knowing where I'm going to be for the next year, I'm happy with."
As it turned out, however, Schultz was very displeased and disheartened by the progress -- or rather, the lack thereof -- in contract talks thereafter, and having signed his tag long ago robbed him of any actual leverage from that point forward. He'd go on to silently protest the ongoing stalemate by sitting out the back end of OTAs after reporting initially, then reporting to mandatory minicamp to avoid suffering fines.
Talks fired up again after the OTAs absence, but stalled again as the team entered its summer break, and now they're on full pause until the end of the coming season -- with the Cowboys still confident he'll not wear anyone else's uniform.