The Dallas Cowboys have a long list of players set to become free agents this offseason. Given the salary cap, there is no way they will be able to bring everyone back for 2022. However, there are some players who they should prioritize. Towards the top of that list needs to be wide receiver, Michael Gallup.
While Gallup may not be the most dynamic receiver on Dallas’ roster, the soon-to-be 26-year-old receiver has shown time and time again that he can be a dependable playmaker for the Cowboys’ offense.
As a rookie in 2018, Gallup frequently turned heads, hauling in 33 catches for 507 yards and two touchdowns. In 2019, he made good on the promise he showed during his first season and broke out in a major way, finishing with the first 1,000-yard season of his career. For the last two seasons, he’s given the Cowboys a three-headed monster at wide receiver alongside Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb.
Gallup has proven the ability to bring down some spectacular grabs and has developed a knack for hauling in clutch catches. Now, he’s going to hit free agency and will have a very high value in the open market.
Curious how the Colorado State product stacks up against his peers? Well, Gallup is tied with Christian Kirk of the Arizona Cardinals for third in receiving yards among wide receivers drafted in 2018. He also ranks fourth in catches and touchdowns, despite being the ninth receiver off the board and not being selected until 81st overall.
There are some concerns, though. As well as Gallup has played throughout his time in Dallas, he still missed significant time with injury in 2021, playing in only nine games last season. First, he had a calf strain in Week 1 that held him out until Week 10. Then, he suffered a far more devastating injury later in the season, tearing his ACL while making an acrobatic play on the ball to score a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals.
While the ACL injury likely won’t scare any teams off entirely, it could have an impact on his market this offseason. It’s possible that Gallup could end up betting on himself by signing a one-year, “prove it” deal. If he does, that could be great news for the Cowboys. Regardless of how his market develops, the ACL injury shouldn’t prevent Dallas from bringing him back into the fold as he is expected to be 100% by August.
Michael Gallup isn’t the only Cowboys receiver set to hit free agency
While Gallup might be the most high profile of Dallas’ wideouts to hit free agency this offseason, he’s far from the only one. Cedrick Wilson, Noah Brown, and Malik Turner are all unrestricted free agents this offseason and opposing teams will surely have some interest.
It’s quite possible, maybe even likely at this point, that the Cowboys wide receiver room is going to look very different in 2022. But having fewer weapons at their disposal isn’t going to bode well for an offense that struggled significantly down the stretch and in the playoffs. For what it’s worth at least one Cowboys legend would like to see them bring back as much of last year’s wide receivers corps as possible. Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith thinks the Joneses need to keep the WR corps together for at least another year.
Another factor in keeping Gallup, is that although he is not a free agent, Cooper’s future with the team seems to be in doubt. For that reason alone, retaining Gallup should become that much more important for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys aren’t that far removed from the 2018 season when Jerry Jones and company decided to take a wide receiver by committee approach to open the year. It went just as poorly as everyone expected and ultimately forced Dallas to trade a first-round pick for Cooper in an attempt to salvage the season.
That memory is still fresh in the minds of many fans. Since then, the wide receiver position has become one of the clear strengths of this team. In turn, quarterback Dak Prescott has also developed alongside them with the two best seasons of his career coming within the last three years.
Dallas’ offense is at its best when Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb can all be on the field together. If the Cowboys suddenly found themselves without Cooper AND Gallup next season, the receiver position could end up as a clear weakness heading into training camp. That’s the last thing this offense needs as it looks to get back on track.
At the end of the day, Gallup has proven himself as a reliable weapon, who has chemistry with Prescott. Lamb did have a wonderful year, but if any receiver doesn’t deserve to be back, it’s Cooper. The former fourth-overall pick did not live up to the $20 million paycheck he received for 2021. Despite a list of free agents longer than a CVS receipt, the Cowboys need to bring Gallup back in 2022. He brings a different level of athleticism and ability to America’s Team.