The Dallas Cowboys are in an interesting position this summer. One they haven't been in in a while. The Cowboys don't have any contract drama carrying over from free agency into the summer as the edge toward training camp. Two offseasons ago, Ezekiel Elliott saw a new deal while Dak Prescott was forced to play out the final year of his rookie deal. Last year, Prescott was on the franchise tag waiting to finalize a deal with the Cowboys. This summer, it's awfully quiet on the contract front, but that doesn't mean there aren't contracts the Dallas Cowboys could look at.
One of those players that the Cowboys need to take a look at is Wide Receiver Michael Gallup. 2021 will be the final year of his deal. With Dak Prescott back at quarterback, there's a strong chance that 2021 is also the best year of his career.
Gallup, who has a strong rapport with Prescott as the deep threat in the Dallas Cowboys passing attack, broke out during the 2019 season when he surpassed 1,100 yards receiving. In 2019, he added 66 receptions and averaged 16.8 yards per reception. His 13.5 average depth of target was 13th in the NFL among players who saw at least 90 targets that season.
Before Dak Prescott's injury in week five of the 2020 season, Michael Gallup, like the rest of the wide receiver corp, was having a great season. On targets greater than 20 yards downfield, Prescott had a passer rating of 145.8 when targeting Gallup. His 348 passing yards through the first five games had him on pace for 1,113 yards on the season before Prescott suffered his injury.
Though he was third on the squad in receiving, it shouldn't understate Gallup's importance to the Cowboys' passing attack and his impact. If you'll recall, Gallup had a huge 47-yard catch down the left sideline wiped out by an erroneous offensive pass interference call on Gallup. Jalen Ramsey was grabbing and tugging away on the Cowboys receiver, and Gallup had to use his hands to get Ramsey off of him. That play changed the complexion of a last-minute attempt by the Cowboys to win the opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
So, as he heads into the final season of his rookie contract, the Cowboys have an important decision to make. Do they allow him to play it out and see his market just before free agency? Do they let him play out his final year and say, “thank you for your time. Best of luck in your future endeavors?” Do they pursue the smart course of action and look to extend him this Summer?
If the Cowboys don't do a contract with Gallup this Summer, the likelihood becomes that he walks in the free-agent market of 2022. With a healthy Dak Prescott and another season of training in the offseason, Gallup is on the verge of a career year, just in time for free agency.
Even as the third option in the Cowboys' passing attack, he's going to have a great shot at surpassing 1,200 yards receiving in 2021 with the 17th game. In addition to the additional game, Gallup will get plenty of opportunities in Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore's vertical-based passing attack.
The year that Gallup and the passing offense is about to have would likely price him out of the Cowboys market if he were to head toward free agency. That's why they should pursue something a little more team-friendly now. Much like they did with La'el Collins a couple of seasons ago, getting in the room with Gallup and his representation to agree to a deal that both sides would be happy now makes sense if the two parties want to keep the relationship alive in Dallas.
Allowing Gallup to play out the final year of his deal would likely mean a departure in 2022 if only because his 2021 season will have made other teams notice. The market for wide receivers was a bit odd in 2020, but with the salary cap expected to take a jump back up next offseason, there's no reason to think that Gallup will be among those seeking a lucrative deal.