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Michael Gallup’s future at the Star is a question the Cowboys must answer

The uber-skilled receiver has always played well for the ‘Boys. But that may not be enough to garner long-term regency with the team.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

There’s absolutely no denying Michael Gallup’s talent. The man knows how to get open at the NFL level, and despite relinquishing a few would-be passing connections to drops from time to time, he’s a reliable and comfortable target for Dak Prescott under the offensive regimes he’s been a part of.

Of course, Prescott hasn’t had a hard time establishing chemistry with any of his receiving counterparts (at least from the outside looking in). #4 is just that type of leader, with a laudable work ethic and charismatic personality that allows him to win over anyone who shares the same winning mentality as he does.

Nonetheless, Michael Gallup deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the intertwining strength he’s cemented on the back end of the Prescott-Gallup connection. For no relationship can prosper without trusting participants on both sides, and Prescott’s confidence in Gallup has continually swelled as he’s ascended into a commensurate prime option.

His numbers are wholly indicative of that: Gallup’s reeled in 158 receptions, good for 2,457 yards (15.6 YPR) and 13 TDs with Prescott as his primary assist-man (though last year he received care-packages from a number of unfamiliar giving arms).

He reached the celebrated 1,000-yard mark (1,107) in 2019, while posting career highs in catches (66), scores (six), YPG (79.1), and target-completion percentage (58.4%). For some, these outputs could represent the numerical summation of a number-one offensive weapon.

But the Cowboys also employ Amari Cooper, a calm and poised route-running savant who consistently scorches past the quadruple-digit yards mark in his sleep. And in 2020, they added CeeDee Lamb, who, devastating to defenses in his own right, quickly blasted rookie records held by Hall of Fame pass-catchers, unleashing several unforgettable poster-worthy grabs along the way.

So it didn’t come as much of a surprise to see Gallup’s numbers take a turn for the worse as Lamb climbed the rookie ladder. #88 usurped all expectations for his freshman campaign’s production (even those of the man who christened him with the franchise’s celebrated digits), and his display in year two may result in him usurping a name or two on the team’s positional depth chart.

Gallup hauled in 59 receptions for 843 yards and five TDs in 2020, a solid performance by any measure.

But his natural ability is far greater than solid, and as an impending free agent in 2021, Gallup will undoubtedly have numerous suitors springing in his direction with inclinations to make him more than just a reliable option among other options.

He’s in a bit of a bind with the influx of skill that’s eating into his role, and his days in Dallas could be progressively shrinking. He has a resolute spot in the squad’s offensive plans this upcoming season, but beyond that beckons questions of an unlimited number.

The ‘Boys could trade him away to avoid losing him to free agency for nothing in return. Or they can adjudicate to retain his services this year, and knowingly let him walk for a larger contract elsewhere later. Or, and this would surprise most, they can slap a franchise tag on his name in ‘21 (which carries a $16 million minimum for receivers), keeping him around as they sew him into their long-term plans.

How do you think Dallas’ judging gavel will be used in this vexing Gallup case?