The Cowboys’ wide receiver position has gotten a lot ink over the last three months of the 2022 offseason. Though Dallas has made some big moves here, the hype around “need” at WR has always felt more like hysteria than reality.
We went into the offseason knowing that Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson would be free agents and that Amari Cooper was a strong candidate for a salary cap move. But no reasonable person imagined that the Cowboys would just waltz into next season with CeeDee Lamb and Simi Fehoko as their starting wideouts. We knew the team would get down to business.
True, only Gallup will be back in Dallas in 2022. Cooper was traded to Cleveland for their 5th-round pick, recently used to draft OT Matt Waletzko, while Wilson signed with Miami.
So far the Cowboys have dealt with those losses by signing James Washington, an experienced backup and occasional starter for the last four years in Pittsburgh, and selecting South Alabama’s Jalen Tolbert in the 3rd round on the 2022 NFL Draft. They also re-signed veteran Noah Brown for additional depth.
Lamb, Gallup, Washington, Tolbert, Brown, Fehoko; that’s your likely WR depth chart for next season. Is it as amazing as the lineup we’ve enjoyed the last two years? No, but if that’s been your standard then you were never going to be satisfied.
That top three of Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb was an embarrassment of riches. Wilson’s modest breakout as WR4 was the icing on top of an already rich, decadent cake. It was never going to be permanent; the salary cap doesn’t allow for that.
When Lamb was drafted in 2020 we assumed that was the kiss of death for Gallup’s future in Dallas, knowing he’d become a free agent this year. That it resulted in Cooper’s departure and a re-signing for Gallup was the only real surprise, if any.
Not only were these big changes in 2022 predictable but the notion that the Cowboys have been greatly weakened at WR is a bit overblown. True, the position is not as grand or deep as it was. But it’s still arguably as strong, if not stronger, than in Dak Prescott’s early years.
The top three around here used to be a declining Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley. I’d propose that CeeDee Lamb in his third year and a heathy Michael Gallup are a better starting duo than we had at any point from 2016-2017.
Gallup’s health, and the notion he might not be ready for Week One, are rightfully concerning. But Bryant, Williams, and Beasley all missed some games at times. It’s part of the business.
Sure, it’s scarier going into a season with unknowns like James Washington and Jalen Tolbert as the next men up. But do you realize that Washington was once taken 21 spots ahead of Gallup in the 2018 Draft, or that he was the Steelers’ leading receiver in 2019?
Nobody is suggesting that losing Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson doesn’t sting. But the point here is that we were never going to preserve that surplus of talent at WR for long. This offseason and these changes were almost inevitable.
The other point is that the cupboard is still far from bare. In fact, the Cowboys offense is arguably still deeper and more talented at WR now than it was before adding Cooper and Gallup in 2018, and perhaps even before drafting Lamb in 2020.