There are plenty of reasons why the 2022 Dallas Cowboys did not reach their full potential. One significant factor in Dallas’ second-consecutive early exit from the postseason was their lack of production at the wide receiver position behind Pro Bowler CeeDee Lamb.
Last offseason the Cowboys made an extremely bold move at the receiver position. Dallas traded away four-time Pro Bowler Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns and re-signed their own free agent, Michael Gallup, to a five-year, $57M deal.
While the deal is not a complete five-year commitment, the Cowboys have an out after next season, Dallas decided to prioritize Gallup over Cooper long-term. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, this decision was one of the moves that eventually helped sink their season.
Without a doubt, Gallup had the worst season of his career in 2022. The 26-year-old missed the first three weeks of the reasons rehabbing from a torn ACL, and still looked like he was not completely ready to come back when he eventually returned in Week 4. In Gallup’s first four games of the 2022 season, he caught just eight passes for 86 yards and had a very poor 47.1% catch percentage.
While he did perform a little better during the middle of the season, Gallup’s end-of-season statistics are still extremely disappointing. The wideout finished the year playing in 14 games with just 39 catches for 424 yards, an average of 10.9 Y/R, and four touchdowns. To put this in perspective, in 2021 Gallup had 34 catches for 445 yards and two touchdowns in just nine games.
Gallup and Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott seemed to develop a great rapport before the injury. This year, things were the complete opposite. Gallup and Prescott never managed to get on the same page, and it consistently resulted in big time mistakes like the one we saw last Sunday against the 49ers.
The biggest long-term cause for concern coming out of Gallup’s 2022 campaign is his inability to separate. Gallup finished the season with an Average Seperation Rate (SEP) of just 2.4, tied for the 11th-worst mark in football.
Missing in 2022 was what used to be his biggest strength as a receiver, making contested catches deep down the field. The wideout had just four receptions that totaled 20 or more yards on the season, and did not record a single reception that went for more than 30 yards.
Unless he has a monster bounce-back season in 2023, it’s hard to see a way the Cowboys don’t use their out in Gallup’s contract after the 2024 season. It would only cost the Cowboys $6M in dead cap, and would get them out of the final three years of the deal.
Maybe a full healthy offseason will be what Michael Gallup needs to turn things around, and right now his long-term future might depend on just that.