Who will take the WR2 role while Michael Gallup is out with injury?

Jalen Tolbert (Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)
Jalen Tolbert (Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports) /

No position on the Dallas Cowboys roster saw more turnover this offseason than that of the wide receivers. They traded Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns. Cedrick Wilson signed with Miami in free agency. Malik Turner got picked up by the San Francisco 49ers. And, the one receiver they did re-sign was Michael Gallup who is recovering from ACL surgery.

Some of the new additions to the Cowboys roster include James Washington, who was signed in free agency, and Jalen Tolbert, who Dallas selected in the third round of the NFL Draft. I think those are the two names Cowboys fans should recognize as players that can become key contributors.

Washington came over from Pittsburgh where he spent the first four seasons of his career. His best season came in 2019 when he caught 44 passes for 735 yards. Playing with an aging Ben Roethlisberger and a loaded receiver room in Pittsburgh didn’t allow Washington ample opportunity to show off his deep-threat ability.

Washington even said in an interview with CBS Sports, “I feel like with everything that transpired at Pittsburgh, I didn’t really get to show my full self.” With that being said, the Oklahoma State product has averaged over 11 yards per reception every year of his career. Playing with Dak Prescott in a pass-friendly offense should allow Washington to have the most productive season of his career.

James Washington and Jalen Tolbert are the two top candidates to take over for Cowboys WR Michael Gallup while he’s injured

The former Steeler clearly has some yards after catch (YAC) ability and he should get a chance to show that while Gallup is sidelined the first month of the season.

The other option I see at WR2 is third-round pick, Jalen Tolbert. The South Alabama product comes into Dallas with high expectations. Most third-round picks will not be expected to immediately contribute to their team, but Tolbert is not one of them.

Head coach Mike McCarthy sees similarities between Tolbert and other players that have worn the Star, too:

Being able to play multiple roles in the offense will be a necessity from whoever is the Cowboys WR2, and clearly, Tolbert has that ability. Also, during his time at South Alabama, Tolbert was the focal point of their passing offense.

From 2019 to 2021, Tolbert had at least a 23% target share in South Alabama’s offense. To go along with back-to-back 1,000+ yard seasons in his junior and senior years. While he is a rookie, he does enter the league at 23 years old, meaning he should be more mature than other first-year players.

Tolbert should have no problem stepping into the Cowboys’ offense and being a contributor early in the season. With the tough early-season schedule Dallas has in front of them, they need their offense to produce points even without Gallup. Quarterback Dak Prescott needs help from his wide receivers, so keep an eye on Washington and Tolbert to have success as WR2.