The Dallas Cowboys surprised seemingly every fan by prioritizing Michael Gallup over Amari Cooper, whom they traded to Cleveland for pennies on the dollar. You won’t be surprised to learn Cooper is closing in on another 1,000-yard season and has caught seven touchdowns in spite of wonky quarterback play.
Gallup, on the other hand, has looked like a shell of his pre-injury self. Cowboys fans were hesitant to get on his case early in the year given he just returned from ACL surgery, but that patience is wearing thin after another lackluster showing.
In Sunday’s loss to the Jaguars, Gallup caught one pass for two yards. He’s topped 50 yards once all season (63 yards vs the Giants on Thanksgiving), and was limited to 23 receiving yards in his two-touchdown game against the Colts.
Additionally, Gallup has been held to 35 or fewer receiving yards in five games this campaign. That number jumps to nine if you up the threshold to 45 yards. These are bars we don’t often associate with Gallup, and it’s officially time to accept that his post-injury regression is a major issue for the Cowboys’ offense.
Gallup’s limited impact is one thing, but Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush’s collective passer rating is night and day when targeting non-Gallup receivers.
It’s time to admit the Cowboys have a Michael Gallup problem.
This is painful to admit, as Gallup is incredibly easy to root for. He’s one of the league’s best receivers in contested-catch situations, and is a matchup nightmare in the red zone. In terms of character, Gallup is a standout in a locker room that is full of genuine good dudes.
Unfortunately, those intangibles only get you so far, and Dallas is desperate for someone to take the pressure off CeeDee Lamb, who’s carrying a larger-than-expected load replacing Cooper as the team’s No. 1 receiver.
With Gallup struggling to beat man coverage, and Noah Brown and James Washington not exactly striking fear into opposing defensive coordinators, Lamb faced double- and triple-teams in the second half against Jacksonville. Go back and watch the 3rd and 10 deep ball to Brown. Lamb was blanketed by three Jaguars.
That doesn’t happen with a legitimate No. 2 receiver; the role Gallup was signed to play to the tune of $24 million fully guaranteed. While Gallup signed a five-year, $62.5 million contract, there’s no guaranteed money left after 2023, meaning Dallas could move on for just a $6 million dead cap hit.
With four or fewer catches in all but one game this season — including just three in the last two games — Kellen Moore admirably fell on the sword, admitting he has to “do a better job” of getting Gallup involved in the passing game.
With 2022 looking more and more like a lost year following major knee surgery, 2023 could be make-or-break for Gallup‘s Cowboys future.
In the immediate future, though, Dallas isn’t going anywhere in the playoffs if Gallup keeps putting up duds.
Lamb’s too good to not get open several times a game, but the fact teams are daring Prescott to throw to Gallup (and Brown) just underlines how much Gallup has struggled in his first year post-injury … and how big of a difference TY Hilton will make if he’s half as good as he was in the pinnacle of his career.