(Editor's Note: NFL rosters change wildly from year to year. This year will be no different, as the Cowboys seek to upgrade their roster via free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft. Still, a large percentage of their roster is already in place, and they'll have plenty of work to do to improve last season's 6-10 record. In the coming weeks, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will evaluate those players who are already under contract, examining their past performance and future outlook. Today, we continue the series with wide receiver Michael Gallup.)
The Good: In this third season, the 2018 third-round pick continued to emerge as a big-play receiver for the Cowboys' offense. Gallup finished fourth on the team in catches (59) and third in receiving yards (843), but he tied Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb for the most touchdowns (5) in a strange season where four different quarterbacks started games for Dallas. Gallup has shown a unique ability to get deep. He's got 31 catches of at least 20 yards over the past two seasons, the most by any Cowboys player, slightly ahead of Cooper's 30. Last year Gallup led the offense with 14.3 yards per catch, and he accounted for 11 of the offense's 50 explosive pass plays, ranking third on the team. Lamb had 18 and Cooper had 13.
The Bad: Well, the dream of three 1,000-yard receivers – a feat that's been achieved only five times in NFL history – wasn't realized. Only Cooper hit the mark; Lamb fell 65 yards short, and Gallup needed 157 more yards to reach 1,000 for the second straight season. He was on a very-early pace for 1,114 yards through five games with Dak Prescott at quarterback -- almost his exact total from 2019 (1,107). After Prescott's season-ending ankle injury, Gallup posted 42 catches for 485 yards over the final 11 games, though he did catch four of his five touchdowns from backup Andy Dalton. Gallup significantly cut down his drop total in 2020 – he had four after an NFL-high 13 in 2019 – but the Cowboys as a unit still led the league last season with 31.
Best Of 2020: Just 25 years old, Gallup already might be one of the best in the league at making catches that are heavily contested and/or tight against the sideline. A perfect example was his 38-yard grab from Dalton after Prescott got injured against the Giants. Tackled before the ball arrived, Gallup maintained concentration and made the catch just inside the right sideline with 31 seconds left, setting up Greg Zuerlein's winning 34-yard field goal.
Contract Consideration: Gallup is entering the final year of his rookie deal with a $2.4 million base salary, according to Spotrac. Currently set to be a free agent in 2022, he'll have a chance to earn a sizable second contact with another productive season.
What's Next: The Cowboys have invested heavily at the receiver position the last three years. Cooper just completed the first season of a five-year, $100 million deal. Lamb was the 17th overall pick in last year's draft. Given their current salary cap constraints, one can speculate how much the Cowboys will be able to pay Gallup after 2021. But the club definitely values his ability. In his first three seasons, Gallup has 158 catches for 2,457 yards and 13 touchdowns. An impressive start to his career. He and Prescott have built a rapport, and they should pick up where they left off in 2020.