Dalton Schultz, Cowboys, Jets, Jaguars, Free Agent
Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys, Getty Images

The New York Jets will not be alone in the tight end market

The New York Jets have a multitude of needs throughout their roster, but there is arguably none bigger than tight end. The position is integral in Mike LaFleur‘s offense and Zach Wilson‘s development as a young quarterback.

Since Dustin Keller’s time as a Jet (2008-12), New York has failed to get even average production from any tight end, let alone a player in their prime who can provide year-to-year consistency to the position.

New York is projected to have the fifth-most salary-cap space ($50.7 million) in the NFL this offseason, per Over The Cap. That number could increase with a few releases.

The Jets will have the necessary space to make a big addition at tight end.

Among the tight ends set to hit free agency, Dalton Schultz of the Dallas Cowboys stands out as the ideal big-ticket free agent target for the Jets to solve their long-standing tight end issue. Schultz is likely just entering his best years and would be a significant addition for New York.

With that being said, if the Cowboys allow Schultz to reach the market, he will likely have multiple suitors. There are a few teams in particular who could make it difficult for the Jets to acquire the productive tight end.

Let’s take a look at all of the teams who could give the Jets a competitive run for Schultz.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars are in a comparable situation to the Jets. They selected Trevor Lawrence to be their potential franchise quarterback with the first overall selection last year, have the second-most projected cap space ($59.6 million), and have a glaring need at tight end. They got only two touchdowns out of the position in 2021.

The Jaguars could absolutely be the Jets’ top competitor in the tight end market.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers also have a young quarterback in superstar Justin Herbert. They are projected to have the fourth-most cap space ($58.6 million).

Getting Herbert a great tight end is a need for the Chargers. Their top tight end in 2021 was 34-year-old Jared Cook, who is set to become a free agent.

The difference with the Chargers in comparison to the Jaguars is that they have some important unrestricted free agents of their own.

Retaining wide receiver Mike Williams has to be a priority for Los Angeles. Defensive tackle Justin Jones is another key free agent. Two other noteworthy veterans slated to be available are linebackers Kyzir White and Uchenna Nwosu.

However, the Chargers have enough cap space to re-sign Williams along with any of the other three free agents mentioned above and still make a play for a tight end to help their already great young quarterback.

Other possible competitors

There are also a few questionable teams pertaining to how they may approach the free agent market at tight end.

The rest of the teams with a lot of salary cap space (over $40 million) are the Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, and Indianapolis Colts.

The Dolphins, Bengals, and Broncos should not be a threat.

For the Dolphins, tight ends Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe are both set to be free agents, but Miami will likely bring back at least one of them. The Dolphins also drafted another tight end, Hunter Long, in the third round of last year’s draft.

The Bengals will likely use much of their cap space to place the franchise tag on star safety Jessie Bates. They also have a much bigger need on their offensive line that they will probably look to address. Retaining C.J. Uzomah (a free agent himself) may be the route they take at tight end.

In Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam, the Broncos have two talented young tight ends.

The Seahawks and Colts could make things intriguing.

It is unlike the Colts under Chris Ballard to be aggressive in free agency, but after a disappointing finish to the 2021 season, they may look to change their approach. They do have Jack Doyle at tight end but certainly need to add more receiving options to their offense.

The Seahawks have a need at tight end and could look to please Russell Wilson if he wants to remain with the team. They do have a few free agents of their own, though. D.J. Reed, Rasheem Green, Quandre Diggs, and Duane Brown are a few important free agents they will have to replace if lost.

Teams who have the need but lack cap space

There are a few teams with a huge need at tight end but not much cap space.

The Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers both have a need at the position. However, they are both tight against the cap.

Carolina is projected to have $19 million in cap space per Over The Cap and needs offensive line help first. Tennessee is projected to be over the cap and will likely not be a threat for an expensive option like Schultz.

The Jets will be challenged, but the competition may not be too overcrowded

Ultimately, the Jets are in a good spot.

The two biggest competitors they will likely face on the tight end market in free agency are the Jaguars and Chargers. The Seahawks and Colts could become threats if they choose to get involved.

Jets fans with their eyes on Schultz should hope that the Chargers focus on re-signing a few of their own free agents, which would make things easier on the Jets.

It should be an interesting process. For the Jets, it is a crucial one. Adding a viable presence to the tight end group is important for success in 2022.

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Ryan Moran is a writer for Jets X-Factor providing in-depth analysis on all things related to the team. Email: ryan.moran310[at]gmail.com
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Bruno
Bruno
8 months ago

Jerry isn’t letting Schultz leave Dallas. Dallas always restructures contracts and creates space every year to keep what they want. This team needs to draft a TE and take a swing for the Fences with either Njoku or OJ Howard.

DHB
DHB
8 months ago

Hey Ryan, might Dallas resign Schultz themselves?

Jets71
Jets71
8 months ago

This is a good breakdown of how things could play out however I don’t want this guy. I think he’s overrated and signing him will end up a big disappointment. He’s a fine player sure but to me he’s just another guy with good stats on a team with multiple offensive options. I look at what happened in NE with their TE’s and all the money they have wasted in those guys. I wonder how they are going to sign JC Jackson at this point. I think this draft is TE rich and would go that route. Spend the cash on someone else. I’m against Schultz and I’m putting it on the fridge. haha.

DBrickMangold
DBrickMangold
8 months ago
Reply to  Jets71

I’m with you on that. You got Jalen Wydermyer, Trey McBride, Isiah Likely, Jeremy Ruckert. Lots of good options in the draft to spend precious cap space on a guy who put up good stats on a great team. If they a vet, sign one of the Tampa tight ends, Brate or Njoku. Hayden Hurst from ATL is a former first round pick and is being overshadowed by Pitts, sign him for cheap if you want, but not Schultz.

Jets71
Jets71
8 months ago
Reply to  DBrickMangold

I like all of the guys you mentioned and there are others, UCLA, SDSU both have TE’s to keep an eye on. No DC is looking at their game plan and thinking “we have to stop Schultz” they are saying “take away these other guys, and let Schultz pick up the scraps. He can’t beat us.”