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Offseason | 2024

Gallup departure looms? Cowboys options explained


IRVING, Texas — A decision regarding the future of Michael Gallup is no longer on the horizon for the Dallas Cowboys, it's on the front porch. The veteran wide receiver finds himself wedged between a downturn in production and the team's challenges with the salary cap this offseason and, as such, he's reportedly been granted permission to seek a trade, per multiple reports.

Speaking from the 2024 NFL Combine, owner and general manager Jerry Jones confessed to no decision having, at the time, been made in regards to Gallup — a statement that largely hinted at a potentially practical parting of ways if no resolution could be agreed to.

'It's one that we'll be going over with him, but nothing that we would say without him being involved," said Jones in February. "We need to sit down and go over some stuff with him before we talk about what we're going to do, or not."

The topic of a potential trade was indeed broached during the 2023 regular season, but it was ultimately tabled until the offseason, where it's now again being revisited, and with traction.

If no trade partner is located, it's possible Gallup could be released as a cap casualty.

The 28-year-old is currently set to hit the Cowboys' salary cap for a combined $45.6 million over the next three seasons ($13.85 million in 2024 and then $15.85 million per annum thereafter) in the final two years of a five-year deal that was inked in March 2022.

That is a massive hit that isn't justified by utilization or his trend in production, so while Gallup has remained the consummate professional and mentor for younger receivers as he battled back from a torn ACL suffered in 2021, the numbers are working far too wildly against him following the 2023 season.

Be it by trade or release, the Cowboys are eyeing major cap savings.

Savings through 2026 season:

  • Pre-June 1: $19.45 million combined
  • Post-June 1: $32.5 million combined

Savings for 2024 season, only:

  • Pre-June 1: $800,000
  • Post-June 1: $9.5 million

*figures courtesy of

It's evident the front office is playing the long game in this situation and is trying to gather as much savings as possible for the 2025 season and beyond, assuming a trade occurs, considering they'll be faced with a proverbial brick wall of dead money from years of contract restructures when next season rolls around.

Otherwise, they could possibly make Gallup a post-June 1 release, where they'd save roughly $8.8 million more in 2024, and that's a gargantuan difference to consider.

They're going to be forced to absorb $13 million in dead money this coming season in any pre-June 1 move/designation, the dead money hit falling to only $4 million as a post-June 1 move/designation.

That cap science is simply for your information, because if Gallup is able to facilitate a trade, it's a pre-June 1 move based upon the timing. It could only be designated a post-June 1 move if he's released due to having not found a suitor to send compensation to the Cowboys in order to acquire him.

Long story short: a trade right now saves a little money right now and more later, but a release labeled for later saves a whole lot more money right now and much more later.

And so, we wait.

A third-round pick in 2018 out of Colorado State, Gallup made a fairly immediate impact by reeling in more than 500 yards as a rookie, a campaign that set the stage for a career-best second season — when he went on to rack up 1,107 receiving yards and six touchdowns in complement to Amari Cooper, with the first-round addition of CeeDee Lamb in 2020 forming a three-headed hydra at receiver for quarterback Dak Prescott.

Cooper went on to be traded in 2022 and, two years later, Gallup could be next, while Lamb has ascended to being arguably the best receiver in the league en route to what might be a market-setting contract in the near future.

But questions of who'll tandem with Lamb for the long haul will now take center stage, as Brandin Cooks — acquired via trade last spring — enters the final year of his contract; and questions still surround the trajectory of the less-proven (i.e., younger) receiving talent on the roster, such as Jalen Tolbert, KaVontae Turpin and rookie Jalen Brooks.

There are others to account for as well, namely Jalen Cropper (also a rookie in 2023), David Durden (rookie returning from season-ending injured reserve), Racey McMath (signed to a futures deal) and Martavius Bryant (signed to a futures deal after showing positive signs on the practice squad last year following reinstatement to the NFL).

As you can readily see, aside from the 180-degree turnaround by Tolbert from Year 1 to Year 2, and the promise of Turpin when his number is called offensively, there are questions here that don't yet have answers.

Does this mean the Cowboys could address the position in free agency?

It's not impossible, but it doesn't seem likely at all, considering the number of bodies they're currently carrying at the position, even without Gallup being counted as one, and the fact they have more pressing positions, and player contracts (current and expiring) to attend to.

It would stand to reason that they'd be interested in seeing what's there in the 2024 NFL Draft, however, even if it's a mid-round pick and not a first- or second-rounder.

Both Gallup and Tolbert were selected in the third round, so take that as you will.

For Gallup, it appears a fresh start potentially awaits him outside of Dallas — having grabbed 21 touchdowns along with 3,144 career receiving yards on 266 receptions in his 67 starts for the Cowboys; and leaving a list of unforgettable highlights in his wake.

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