Cowboys take catastrophic loss on Amari Cooper trade with Michael Gallup release

Nov 12, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA;  Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (13) makes a
Nov 12, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (13) makes a / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The decision to trade Amari Cooper will go down in Dallas Cowboys infamy. It's been regurgitated countless times over the last two years, but the trade has aged about as horribly as anyone could have imagined and it managed to become worse after the Cowboys released Michael Gallup.

Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News hinted last week that Gallup would be released. Watkins reported that Cowboys officials met with Gallup's agent and that the 27-year-old will have a "healthy market" if he's released.

We'll see if that holds true, but Gallup's Cowboys career is over after he was released on Friday with a post-June 1 designation.

It ends a six-year run with the franchise as a former third-round pick in 2018. He delivered some memorable moments in a Dallas uniform and is by all accounts a great teammate. Fair or not, though, he'll always be tied to the infamous Cooper trade.

Cowboys release Michael Gallup, take catastrophic loss on Amari Cooper trade

Gallup's release was inevitable. Nobody expected the WR to experience a dramatic fall from grace post-ACL surgery, but his decline isn't overly surprising.

Despite not knowing how Gallup would bounce back from the injury, the Cowboys inked him to a five-year $67.5 million extension after the 2021 season. The deal included $27.5 million in guaranteed money. Cooper was traded to the Browns three days after Gallup signed his deal.

It was a significant gamble, and one that didn't pay off. In 2022, Gallup caught 39 passes for 424 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games. Though underwhelming, that was his first season following ACL surgery. It's rare that players hit the ground running coming off a major injury, so fans were willing to give him a pass.

Of course, that blank slate made 2023 a make or break year for Gallup. When all was said and done, he was worse two years removed from the injury. He appeared in all 17 games and posted career-lows in targets, yards and touchdowns. He also had one more catch (35) than he managed in nine games in 2021 (34).

Gallup placed in the bottom third among qualified receivers in separation rate, receiving grade, yards per route run and average depth of target. He became a net negative for the offense and was demoted to WR4 in the second half of the season for second-year man Jalen Tolbert.

The Cowboys had to move quickly with Gallup, as $4 million of his $8.5 million base salary would've become guaranteed on the fifth day of the league year. As a post-June 1 cut, his release clears $9.5 million off the 2024 cap.

Gallup was a fan favorite in Dallas for multiple years. Moving on was in the best interest of both parties, and we hope to see him bounce back in 2024.

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