(SportsRadio 610) - For the past three seasons, tight end Dalton Schultz was one of Dak Prescott’s favorite targets with the Dallas Cowboys.
He’s also been on the wrong side of DeMeco Ryans' defense in each of the past two postseasons.
Schultz, entering his sixth season in the league and first with the Texans, finished second in targets in both the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
In fact, the former fourth-round selection out of Stanford finished second in nearly every receiving category for the Cowboys this past season and was thought to be in line for a hefty payday after playing last season on the franchise tag ($10.9 million).
Over the last five seasons in Dallas, Schultz caught 211 passes for 2,122 yards and 17 touchdowns on 301 targets.
After the Texans inked Schultz to a one-year contract worth up to $9 million, Schultz’s agent denied reports that the Cowboys had offered the free agent tight end a three-year $36 million deal.
Nevertheless, Schultz made the decision to move south after the Texans hired DeMeco Ryans as their new head coach and solidified their staff. It allowed him to fit within a familiar offensive scheme and to get on the right side of the guy responsible for cutting his previous two seasons short.
“He’s been the defensive coordinator who has kicked us out of the playoffs, kicked me out of the playoffs the last couple years,” Schultz said. “Having a defensive minded head coach with a scheme that I truly have respect for and believe in. Also, just the scheme coming over from S.F. Just an offense that I have some familiarity with in my past. Obviously everyone has been able to see what they’ve been able to do in San Francisco, so having the opportunity to do similar things here is very intriguing for me at the tight end position especially.”
Ryans, while coordinating the defense in San Francisco the past two seasons, held the Cowboys to an average of 14.5 points and 294 yards in two games, both of which the 49ers won, knocking the Cowboys out of the playoffs.
Ryans is looking forward to Schultz impacting the Texans' new look offense with his versatility as a complete tight end.
“What I like about Dalton’s game is, he’s not just a one-trick guy,” Ryans said. “Dalton does a good job in the blocking game, he also has great hands, he’s always, always open, right? He’s a big target and he’s very quarterback friendly. So that’s one thing playing against Dalton a lot in the NFC, he made a lot of big plays. So, I’m excited to see what he can do for us here.”
Schultz, while not amongst the top blocking tight ends in the NFL, has improved that part of his game.
According the Pro Football Focus, Schultz finished the 2022 season with the sixth-highest run blocking grade in the league amongst qualified tight ends. He ran a route on nearly 73% of drop backs in 2022, which was the ninth-highest rate for a tight end.
It remains to be seen how offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik will best utilize Schultz in the offense, as he ran relatively short routes in Dallas. Schultz has scored the fifth-most touchdowns in the league at his position over the last three seasons and ranks 10th in targets (19) inside the 10-yard line since the 2020 season.
Meanwhile, Schultz is enjoying getting to know his new teammates, some of which he admired from afar when the Cowboys hosted the Texans in week 13 last season.
“I just remember thinking ‘damn, they have a really good young core,’ especially the back end in the secondary kind of impressed me,” Schultz recalled. “Just knowing that you’re coming into a young team who is hungry and has a lot of young guys on rookie deals, hungry to prove themselves, I think is very attractive in picking where you want to play.”
Shaun Bijani has spent the last 17 years covering the Houston sports scene for SportsRadio 610. Follow him on Twitter @ShaunBijani.