Cowboys projected to make most obvious cap-saving move possible

May 14, 2022; Frisco, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy (L) talks with vice
May 14, 2022; Frisco, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy (L) talks with vice / Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

There's a lot of talk circling about Dak Prescott's contract extension. All signs point to Prescott becoming the highest-paid player in NFL history. While the reaction among the national media will be nauseating, extending Prescott is really the only decision at the Dallas Cowboys' disposal.

Not only does Prescott have insane leverage over the Cowboys, but an extension would provide a lofty $26 million in cap relief.

As of this writing, Dallas is $21 million over the cap. A new deal for Prescott would allow them to become cap compliant, but they'd barely have enough funds to sign their 2024 draft class. In other words, the front office will need to make other moves to generate more money.

Luckily, there are plenty of other outs at the Cowboys' disposal. Contract restructures are a virtual guarantee with this regime, but they could say goodbye to some long-tenured players as well.

Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus recently named one cut candidate for every NFL team. The choice for the Cowboys is painfully obvious and one the entire fan base has been waiting for since the early stages of the 2023 season.

Michael Gallup feels like an inevitable Cowboys cap casualty this offseason.

Yes, Michael Gallup was the Cowboys' projected cap casualty. The kicker? Spielberger has Dallas giving Gallup a paycut, not outright releasing him.

"Here, we have Dallas reducing his salary down to just $4 million, which he currently has guaranteed for injury and which will vest to fully guaranteed a few days into the 2024 league year in March. In addition, perhaps the 2025 and 2026 contract years are converted into void years."

We suppose a paycut is possible but the Cowboys could save $9.5 million against the cap if it designates Gallup as a post-June 1 cut, per Over the Cap. It's not like the savings would multiple next offseason. We're talking about a $2 million difference ($11.5 million) if the Cowboys wait until 2025 to cut Gallup.

If Gallup showed flashes of returning to the contested-catch savant he was pre-ACL injury, this would be a different story. That hasn't been the case. Two years removed from the injury, Gallup had his worst season to date ... in the best statistical season of Dak Prescott's career. That's pretty damning.

He ranked near the bottom of the league in separation rate; further proof that surgery sapped his burst and explosion. Among 73 receivers who saw at least 56 targets this year, Gallup's 62.7 receiving grade ranked 62nd, per Pro Football Focus. He also placed 64th in yards per route run and 40th in average depth of target.

Gallup used to be must-watch television every Sunday. Since the injury, he's been rendered to a part-time player that was benched for Jalen Tolbert. If the Cowboys didn't have much use for Gallup last season, what evidence is there to suggest that will change in 2024?

A paycut isn't the worst idea, but Dallas finally has an out of Gallup's awful contract. Releasing him with a post-June 1 designation makes the most sense.

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