Coming into the season, the Dallas Cowboys looked like they had one of the best wide receiver corps in all of football. Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Cedrick Wilson were expected to headline an electrifying unit.
While at times the Cowboys’ wideouts did look great, as a whole the unit underperformed this season. With two of their top receivers set to hit free agency and some big-time questions about some players on the roster, the Cowboys wide receiver group could look a whole lot different than it did this year when we hit the start of training camp next season.
With that in mind, today we take a look at the future of the top four receivers on the Cowboys roster and predict if they will be on the team next season.
Contract Status: Signed through 2024
After a very inconsistent season, Amari Cooper’s long-term future with the Cowboys is reportedly a discussion. The 27-year-old wideout had the second-worst statistical season of his career, catching just 68 passes for 865 yards. Cooper did score eight touchdowns, which tied his career-high, but far too often in the second half of the season he was just a non-factor in many games.
After a very rocky year, some insiders, including Bobby Belt of 105.3 The Fan, believe Cooper will not be a Cowboy next season.
"I feel like Amari Cooper's gone. That's just a sense I get, nobody's told me that." - @BobbyBeltTX— Jeff Cavanaugh (@JC1053) January 17, 2022
If the Cowboys were to cut ties with Cooper, they would free up about $16M in cap space. When asked about being back next season, Cooper admitted he would like to return, but acknowledged he does not have any control over the decision.
Cowboys WR Amari Cooper has three years left on his current contract, but the team could choose to part ways to create extra cap space this offseason.— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 18, 2022
Cooper when asked about being back next season: “I don’t make those decisions. I honestly don’t know, but hopefully.”
While freeing up $16M in cap space would be nice, it’s hard to believe the Cowboys would actually make this move. With all the problems they had on offense in the second half of the season, releasing your best or second-best wide receiver just does not make a lot of sense. With Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson both set to hit free agency, releasing Cooper would give you CeeDee Lamb and who ever else your can find if you don’t re-sign one of those others. It could almost guarantee they use a high draft pick, or sign a pricey wideout in the offseason.
Final Verdict: Cooper remains with the team next season as the Cowboys hope for a bounce-back.
Contract Status: Rookie deal, signed through 2023
Much like Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb came into the season with sky-high expectations. After a very productive rookie year, many believed Lamb had a chance to cement himself as a top 10 receiver in football this season. While the 22-year-old wideout had a solid statistical season, untimely drops and his inability to get on the same page as his quarterback Dak Prescott kept him from having an outstanding year.
Through the first seven games of the season, Lamb was on pace to be an All-Pro, catching 39 passes for 609 yards, 15.62 Y/R, and scoring four touchdowns. In the final nine games of the year, as the Cowboys overall offensive production started to decline, so did Lambs’ individual performance. The former first-round pick caught 40 passes for 493 yards and two touchdowns over that nine-game span and finished the season recording just two touches in Dallas’ playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
While you can’t blame Lamb for the Cowboys’ inability to consistently get him involved in their offensive game plan, there are things the wideout needs to clean up in his third year. Eliminating the drops, which he had eight of on the season, and figuring out a way to improve his connection with his signal-caller are two things he will have to work on this offseason. Regardless, Lamb will be back in Dallas for at least three more seasons, and there’s a chance he could be the clear WR1 heading into next year.
Final Verdict: Lamb is the only true lock of this group to be back in Dallas next season.
Contract Status: UFA
While there weren’t many positives to take away from the Cowboys offense this season, the emergence of Cedrick Wilson was certainly one. Stepping in during Michael Gallup’s absence, Wilson had a career year, catching 45 passes for 602 yards and scoring six touchdowns.
Cowboys WR Cedrick Wilson has caught a touchdown, a 2-point conversion and five other balls in addition to completing a pass for 31 yards— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) January 3, 2022
It’s Cedrick’s world, we’re all just living in itpic.twitter.com/XcNs8zSlUb
For Wilson, his breakout year could not have come at a better time as the 26-year-old wideout is set to hit free agency this March. Before the season started, it didn’t seem like Dallas would have any issue bringing Wilson back if they wanted to for next season. Now, with him putting some solid performance on tape, the former sixth-round pick may have priced himself out of the Cowboys’ budget.
Being a sixth-round pick, Wilson will likely take advantage of getting the best deal he can, and it’s hard to see that coming from the Cowboys. With so many other holes to fill on the team, it’s not likely they will be able to match what Wilson will get on the open market.
Final Verdict: Wilson departs in free agency, signing a three-year deal
Contract Status: UFA
It was a tough season for fourth-year wideout, Michael Gallup. The 25-year-old suffered a calf injury in the season opener against the Buccaneers and missed seven games before returning in Week 10 against Atlanta. Gallup posted some decent production in his eight games post-injury catching 31 passes for 409 yards and scoring two touchdowns.
Unfortunately, as we all now know, Gallup tore his ACL in the Week 17 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals, ending his 2021 season and opening up a big question mark about his long-term future.
For both sides, a return to Dallas on a one-year deal in 2022 makes so much sense. Gallup’s eventual return would give the Cowboys once again one of the best trios of receivers in football, and it would give himself a chance to get healthy and prove his worth before signing a long-term extension. It seems unlikely that a team would commit to Gallup long-term given his current health, so a return seems like the best fit for both sides.
Final Verdict: Gallup signs a one-year deal to return to Dallas