Tight end Dalton Schultz turned into a major offensive contributor for the Houston Texans after signing an inexpensive deal this past offseason. Now, though, Schultz is one of the team’s top internal free agents who might not be retained for 2024.
The continued development of quarterback C.J. Stroud will once again be the No. 1 priority for the team this upcoming season, and that means giving him as many weapons as possible. Schultz finished the year second in targets and receptions, third in receiving yards and third in touchdowns. Those numbers aren’t easily replaced, especially by someone who isn’t familiar with the offense.
But general manager Nick Caserio may want to go in another direction if Schultz isn’t interested in coming back on the similarly cheap $6.25 million he signed a year ago. Here are the pros and cons of re-signing Schultz.
Pro: Reliable target
Forgetting the abysmal drop in the playoffs, Schultz was one of Stroud’s best pass-catchers this year. He caught 59 of 88 targets for 635 yards and five touchdowns. Schultz also caught six passes for 80 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs. Reliable tight ends are tough to come by, and Schultz finished as the eighth-most valuable player at his position during the 2023, per Pro Football Focus.
Con: Less opportunity for Brevin Jordan
Backup tight end Brevin Jordan emerged as a suitable tight end when Schultz missed time at the end of the year and he continued to be important even in Schultz’s return. Jordan showed off his speed in the wild card win over the Cleveland Browns and could be a breakout player in Houston in 2024. It might be tough for Jordan to develop, though, if he’s stuck behind Schultz on the depth chart.
Pro: Good blocking tight end
Schultz is not just a pure pass-catcher – he’s a solid run-blocker as well. Schultz finished with a plus-60.0 run-blocking grade once more, per Pro Football Focus. Those attributes don’t grow on trees for tight ends nowadays, and the Texans need good blocking to improve the run game in 2024.
Con: Worry about overpaying
The Texans got good value for Schultz in 2023, but they might not be able to get the same in 2024. Tight ends were necessary for some of the best offenses in the NFL, and Schultz proved he can play at a high level. The Texans might not want to get into a bidding war for a player they may not need as much in 2024 if they promote Jordan or find another pass-catcher in free agency or the draft.
While Schultz was a quality contributor for the Texans, it doesn’t make much sense for Houston to keep him at a higher price in 2024. Jordan’s emergence is a main reason for this, too, because he could turn into a huge part of the offense next year. Schultz might be able to find a better role elsewhere as well on a team that is willing to pay him more money.
Verdict: Let him walk