Cowboys bungled Michael Gallup trade saga by waiting until 2024

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The weekend before free agency has not been kind to the Dallas Cowboys. First, the Browns' acquisition of wide receiver Jerry Jeudy from Denver shed another damning light on Dallas' Amari Cooper trade. Now, the Cowboys front office has seemingly admitted defeat in another major transaction: giving Michael Gallup a big-money contract.

Late Saturday night, news broke that the Cowboys have given Gallup permission to seek a trade. That's the ideal outcome here, but Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News understands teams are "reluctant' to trade for Gallup, assuming he'll be released this coming week.

That's no surprise. Already on a downward trajectory before 2023, Gallup is coming off the worst season of his career and carries a $13.85 million cap hit next season. Gallup is also slated to make $8.5 million. Why would any team trade for a declining player with a lofty contract to boot?

Barring a desperate team coming to the Cowboys rescue, it seems as though Gallup will be released. What's so frustrating about this sudden trade saga is that Jerry Jones and Co. are a year too late in trying to move Gallup.

The Cowboys completely botched trading Michael Gallup

If the Cowboys were smart, they would've tried to trade Gallup last offseason. While Gallup wasn't overly productive in 2022, it was his first year removed from ACL surgery. Teams likely would've been willing to take a flier on Gallup with the hope that he'd return to pre-injury form another year removed from the operation.

Instead, Dallas restructured Gallup's deal. In doing so, they doubled down on believing Gallup would rebound after a down 2022. Last summer, reporters spoke glowingly of Gallup's renewed confidence and spring, setting the stage for a redemption tour. The front office attributed his 2022 struggles to a mental block post-surgery.

Fans bought in to the hype (what other choice did they have?), but the regular season arrived and Gallup was immediately surpassed on the depth chart by Brandin Cooks and eventually 2021 third-round pick Jalen Tolbert.

Luckily, the Cowboys restructured Cooks' deal to put his deal on par with Gallup's. It allowed them flexibility to move on from Gallup in 2024. Initially, the maneuver made it more difficult to cut bait with Gallup this offseason. It was a bizarre decision given Gallup didn't crack 40 catches or 430 receiving yards in 14 games.

In a vacuum, we understand why Dallas didn't trade Gallup last offseason. The idea of a potentially healthy Gallup operating alongside CeeDee Lamb and Cooks had to be tantalizing. However, it also speaks to the shortsightedness of the front office.

Look no further than the Eagles, who are smartly fielding trade offers for edge rushers Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick. 2023 first-round pick Nolan Smith is in line to start and they have the cap space to sign a big-ticket free agent, all the while netting what will likely be an assortment of day two and three draft picks.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys are always a year too late to strike. If they can't trade Gallup, they have only themselves to blame.

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