In yesterday's article, ESPN's beat writers from around the league gave their thoughts on their teams' likelihood at moving a player before the deadline. Todd Archer, who's covered the Cowboys for many years, had this and more to say about Gallup:
“The Cowboys wouldn't want to do this, but Gallup has not played since the opener because of a calf injury and is in the final year of his contract… Given the talent in the group, the Cowboys might be able to get something in return, but they wouldn't want to walk away from Gallup.”
Michael being the most likely to be traded doesn't mean it will happen, or that it's even that likely. But there's no denying that his past performance and impending free agency, plus the current talent Dallas has at WR, make it a worthwhile discussion.
After over 1,100 receiving yards and six touchdowns in 2019, a season in which he only played 14 games and started 12, Gallup has proven he can be a productive starter. His numbers went down in 2020 after CeeDee Lamb's arrival and the loss of Dak Prescott, but Michael is still a 25-year-old playmaker with ball skills that work in any offense.
Gallup's been out since injuring his calf during the Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay. The Cowboys have won five straight on the overall strength of their offense even without him, getting good contributions from backup Cedrick Wilson and other weapons in Michael's absence.
Trade talk around Gallup didn't just start this week, though. It's been a topic since Lamb was drafted in 2020 and especially during this past offseason.
There are valid points on both sides of the debate. Yes, the Cowboys would be fine with Lamb, Amari Cooper, Wilson, and Noah Brown as their top-four receivers going forward. As they have the last five weeks, they can beat anybody in the NFL with that WR depth chart.
But what if Cooper or Lamb get hurt? We already know Amari is playing through injuries and that CeeDee's physical style as a ball carrier could put him on the injury list at some point. How much further do you want Wilson or Brown moving up in the rotation, and especially once we get to the playoffs?
Some might argue that a defensive player you could trade for Gallup for will help just as much, if not more, as Dallas competes for a championship the rest of the year. And even if all they'd get back is a future draft pick, that's a new asset on a fresh rookie contract for a guy you're probably losing in free agency next spring.
But that expiring contract also mitigates Michael's trade value. Other teams are only going to give back another impending free agent, or a player or draft pick of lesser worth.
Also, you run the risk of losing your team's most valuable quality. The Cowboys are winning on their offensive potency, which has helped to overcome defensive injuries and mistakes. If you trade Gallup and then lose another starting receiver, suddenly the thing that makes you special may not be there anymore.
Moving Gallup is also not necessary for getting help on defense when you consider Dallas' current injuries. The expected returns of DeMarcus Lawrence, Neville Gallimore, Dorance Armstrong, and Kelvin Joseph should do a lot to boost the talent without having to sacrifice elsewhere.
Fretting about “losing Gallup for nothing” next offseason is just one way to look at it. Trade him now and you lose a key offensive asset for the rest of 2021, and it wouldn't take much for that come back and bite you.
Also, remember the compensatory pick system. If Michael does wind up signing a good contract with another team then Dallas probably will get something back in return. If he's as respected elsewhere in the NFL as he is here, that pick could very well be a 3rd or 4th-rounder.
Given Michael Gallup's value to the Cowboys for their hopeful Super Bowl run this year, it should take a big return for the team to consider letting him go. Perhaps a Godfather offer will come, but my guess is Dallas will hang on to this asset through the rest of the season.