We are less than a month away from the 2021 NFL Draft. Who the Dallas Cowboys choose to spend the 10th overall pick on is going to have a serious hand in shaping what the future of this franchise looks like which is why it is important to make sure that the team selects the best possible player. Exactly who would be the “best” pick seems to vary from fan to fan, but overall general agreement is that the team will come away with somebody solid early on.
The first round of the draft is obviously important to hit on, but where truly healthy rosters are built comes later on. Day two action, with the second and third rounds, are very important, and the Cowboys found an excellent third-rounder a few years ago in wide receiver Michael Gallup.
Dallas took Gallup back in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft which means that 2021 is the final year of his rookie contract. Any player entering their contract year should be looked at with questions about their future, so what should the Cowboys do with Michael Gallup?
The Dallas Cowboys need to make sure that they are having a conversation about Michael Gallup
We are entering the final season of Michael Gallup’s rookie contract with the Dallas Cowboys. This is important for a variety of reasons. Context is necessary and tells us that the Cowboys obviously have CeeDee Lamb entering year two of his first-round rookie contract, and Amari Cooper is entering the second season of the new deal that he signed with the club last year.
To date, the Cowboys have not restructured Cooper’s deal which means, as it stands, the organization can get out from it in 2022 by absorbing just $6M against their salary cap. We have talked before about how they could be setting up a decision of who to properly commit to in 2022, Cooper or Gallup, but considering Cooper has shown no signs of slowing it sets up a difficult decision.
While it would obviously be nice to see the Cowboys benefit from Gallup’s presence on the field this season, it isn’t difficult to realize that he is very likely going to get paid in 2022 by someone who is not America’s Team. It would be responsible of the team to consider moving on from him before then in order to capitalize in the present moment.
Logic tells us that Gallup will likely net a compensatory pick in 2023 for the Cowboys, and while we know that they love them, the idea of netting something for him now as opposed to two years from now certainly sounds quite nice, especially given the fact that Dallas is well-stocked in the offensive weapon department.
What would a trade for Michael Gallup even look like?
It is easy to sit here and say that the Cowboys should do something without offering any sort of solution. They should certainly explore trading Michael Gallup, but what should they be looking for?
The great Bob Sturm wrote this week about how the Cowboys should seriously consider this whole idea if they are able to land Kyle Pitts in the NFL Draft, and as he noted, any team who sees themselves as a contender for the game’s ultimate prize would theoretically be in the mix.
Maybe the premise of checking the market for what a Gallup trade might net you on draft weekend is not to the liking of anyone involved. But if the Cowboys would entertain the notion, Gallup is exactly the type of player a Super Bowl contender would trade plenty to get. Especially if it’s a team that needs one more playmaker but doesn’t have the cap room.
Good news: Gallup takes up no space in 2021 — $2.4 million to be exact. Do you know what a team that has no cash but thinks it is in the mix would pay for one year of a free Gallup? I would say a second-rounder for sure and I might do even better if I can get an auction going.
Can you keep throwing pass catchers at this offense? Perhaps the Cowboys can make it happen and also address the defense with additional picks by flipping Gallup. Or they are just going to roll out this group and delay a decision on Gallup vs. Cooper until after 2021.
A second-round pick certainly seems fair for a receiver of Gallup’s caliber. It is important to note that any team acquiring Gallup would be running the risk of not retaining him in 2022 and therefore would likely be unwilling to give up too much. However, they would then be eligible for the compensatory pick that he would yield in 2023 if they wanted to recoup some their loss.
So who are the teams then? Allow me to suggest two that went after one of the bigger free agent wide receivers this offseason in JuJu Smith-Schuster (who wound up re-signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers on an effective one-year deal),the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs.
Baltimore and Kansas City hold the 58th and 63rd picks respectively in the draft. They are late-second-rounders which could be viewed as almost thirds, a fair level of compensation for a potential one-year rental before investment is regained, and most importantly a top 63 pick for the Dallas Cowboys in the here and now.
The number of hypotheticals that this opens up for the Cowboys is fun to consider. While they could just sit and draft with all of their picks, what if the first round went their way (however you define that)? Say one of the tackles fell to them in Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater, heck you could even give them Kyle Pitts if you truly wanted to.
This would leave the Cowboys without cornerback help, but what if they wanted to jump back into the first round with their own second-round pick (44 overall) and whichever one they acquired in our hypothetical? They could land a sliding Jaycee Horn or maybe feel that whatever value they jumped up to was fair for the investment Caleb Farley would require.
If the Cowboys walked away from the first round with a future tackle and cornerback, both of whom would be on the first year of rookie contracts, their future would be much more stable and cost effective, which is an important consideration in the world they now live in where Dak Prescott is getting paid top tier money.
These are all just ideas, but they are things that the Cowboys themselves need to be talking about. If they aren’t, they aren’t paying attention to the entire picture.