The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still early on in the process of replacing recently retired tight end Rob Gronkowski. When a player of Gronk’s magnitude retires, it opens the door for the discussion of who the team will get to replace him.
The Bucs still have Cameron Brate on the roster and drafted two promising tight ends in the draft. So are the Buccaneers going to stand pat with that?
The Buccaneers Have Options
Recently, Greg Auman of The Athletic put out a great article with several options to replace Gronkowski. One that caught our eye may be the least likely, but would seem to be the best option. That player is, Dallas Cowboys’ tight end Dalton Schultz.
After being given the $10.9 million franchise tag by the Cowboys, Schultz is currently involved in a contract dispute with the team. Due to his continuing contract negotiations with Dallas, the 26-year-old tight end skipped the final round of voluntary activities.
As Auman pointed out, the Buccaneers could “swing-for-the-fences” and trade for Schultz. Auman explained further…
“It would likely take a mid-round pick to pry Schultz away from Dallas — remember, they let receiver Amari Cooper go to the Browns for a fourth-rounder and a late-round pick swap,” Auman continues. “For the Bucs to make it work cap-wise, they’d have to sign Schultz to an extension to lower his cap number. Spotrac gave him a market value of four years, $50 million this spring, so it would be another major commitment for a cap-strapped Bucs front office.”
One of the Best Receiving TE’s
One of the best receiving tight ends in the NFL, Schultz had a career-high 78 receptions, 808 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns last season. Schultz actually finished third in receptions among all tight ends, sixth in targets and receiving yards, and fifth in touchdowns.
Schultz has been Dak Prescott’s safety valve ever since he became the Cowboys’ starting tight end in 2020. In other words, with Tampa Bay entering the 2022 season without Chris Godwin (Godwin is recovering from an ACL injury) and Antonio Brown (out of the league), he could be just what Tom Brady is looking for.
Last season, Schultz had 43 first-down catches and a 10.4 yard per receiving average. No other tight end has more first-down receptions than Schultz, with the exception of Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce.
According to Pro Football Focus, Schultz (78.1 offensive grade) and Gronkowski (79.5 offensive grade) nearly tied for first place in that category last year. By acquiring Schultz, the Buccaneers would signal that they are all-in on replacing their five-time Pro Bowl tight end.
“Schultz was PFF’s No. 6 tight end last year, one spot ahead of Gronkowski,” Auman stated. “So if Tampa Bay values having a top-tier tight end and is set on going all-in this year, acquiring Schultz would represent a less-drastic dropoff than they’d have with the free-agent options.”
Swinging for the Fences
The idea that the Buccaneers would try to trade for Schultz isn’t so absurd. In what might be Brady’s final season, Tampa Bay might consider trading a third-round draft pick to get a top tight end who is comparable with Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs and George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers.
The real question is whether the Cowboys would be willing to let go of their best receiving option, especially with CeeDee Lamb being the only consistent receiver who entered the season in good health. James Washington and Jalen Tolbert will likely start the 2022 season as the Cowboys’ Nos. 2 and No. 3 receivers while Michael Gallup is currently rehabbing from an ACL injury. Dallas is also considered a potential Super Bowl contender so getting them to trade Schultz won’t be easy.
The Buccaneers would need to rely on Schultz not giving in with the current contract negotiations. Then as Auman said, it would take a mid-round pick or more to get him. Then, once/if you get him, you’d have to be able to sign him to a long-term deal. Because of those reasons I just can’t see this happening. Then again, since the Buccaneers initially signed Brady it seems everything is possible, if the price is right.
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