The Dallas Cowboys struck gold when they picked WR Michael Gallup up with the 81st pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The third rounder of Colorado State quickly established himself as the Cowboys top down-the-field threat and his physical style of play and high-ball acrobatics reminded fans of the recently departed Dez Bryant.
Together with Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, the Dallas Cowboys have arguably the best and most versatile WR corps in the league. A status many fans aren’t very eager to let go of.
When the idea of trading Gallup for a defensive piece has been broached last season, fans were dismissive of such a preposterous idea (yours truly included) but after the 2020 season, where we saw Dallas field what was quite possibly the worst defensive unit in franchise history, trading away Gallup makes a whole lot more sense.
Fans are vastly overvaluing Michael Gallup’s worth on the Dallas Cowboys and in the league.
Besides the obvious need to improve the defense, there’s the league-wide market at WR to consider. The past few seasons we’ve seen the NFL explode with young receiver talent. Each year seems to be a historic WR class and as such, each year receivers like Gallup lose their value.
Looking at Pro Football Focus’ top-50 free agents of 2021 list, there are 3 WRs ranked in their top-5 alone. Next year, when Gallup himself is a free agent, will have even more WRs on the market. If teams want a receiver like Michael Gallup, they can get him. And given the number of options, it’s not going to break the bank.
The impact Gallup makes on the Dallas offense is less than what a player of similar talent would make on the Dallas defense.
Michael Gallup finished the 2020 season graded by PFF as the 78th WR in the NFL (out of 127). His 59 receptions are 52nd and his 843 yards rank 34th The verdict thus far is that he’s a good player but he’s not great and he’s not special enough to justify re-signing him to a big deal. Or, if you’re another team, trading something of high value for him.
Some of his humble numbers can be attributed to Dak Prescott’s Week 5 season ending injury. It’s hard to perform with four different back-ups throwing to you the majority of the season, after all. And part of it is because of the talent around him as well. You try to put up good numbers when Lamb and Cooper are getting most of the looks. But then again, that’s all the more reason he’s overvalued.
It’s basically a law of nature that if you keep adding weapons to the offense, you’re going to start seeing diminished returns. There’s only one ball to go around, right? Looking at the team on paper next season, chances are Gallup will be fourth or even fifth in the pecking order – after Cooper, Lamb, Zeke, and Jarwin (You may scoff at the idea of the latter two, but Dak likes throwing to tight ends and Zeke is always going to get a healthy amount of check-downs).
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Fans clinging to Michael Gallup and refusing to consider a trade involving him are overvaluing his importance and replaceability. The WR market is about to be flooded with WR2 talents and no one is going to feel overly compelled to sign or trade for one. The impact Gallup makes on the Dallas offense is less than what a player of similar talent would make on the Dallas defense. So if a similarly talented player can be attained in a Gallup trade, then by all means the Dallas Cowboys should do it.
The best we can hope for is a trade that involves another “good” defensive player on an expiring deal. Otherwise, we may be forced to ride it out and hope for a mid-round compensatory pick.
Both the “trade Gallup” bandwagon and the “keep Gallup” bandwagon seem to be overestimating his value. And I’m certifiably guilty of both. But just looking at the Cowboys roster, assessing his past performance and expected 2021 performance, and recognizing the ballooning WR market in the NFL, I can say he’s a replaceable part.
Michael Gallup is one of the Dallas Cowboys better draft picks of the past few years and while we’re all lucky to have him, he’s not overwhelmingly special and doesn’t hold a ton of value in today’s WR-rich market.