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Cowboys 2023 offseason position breakdown series: Wide receiver

A breakdown of the wide receivers on the Dallas Cowboys roster. The stats, the cap allocation and projections.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Position Breakdown Series is taking every position group for the Dallas Cowboys and looking at the players, their rankings, contract numbers and predicting the upcoming season for each player.

This edition is looking at the wide receiver position for Dallas, so let’s get straight to it.

CeeDee Lamb #88
Age: 24
Experience: 4 years
College: Oklahoma

2022 Stats:
Total Snaps- 1,127
Targets- 156
Receptions- 107
Receiving Yards- 1,359
Receiving TD- 9
Yards Per Reception- 12.7
Drops- 7
First Downs- 67

2023 Contract:
Cap Cost- $4,457,731 (1.9% Total Cap)
Dead Cap- $4,457,731
Base Salary- $2,520,456
Signing Bonus- $1,937,275

2023 Projection:
Tom - If Michael Gallup is really 100% this year, Lamb headlines the best starting trio of wide receivers Dak Prescott has ever had. And that is all to the good for Lamb. While his volume stats may not be as spectacular as they would be if he was the only real WR threat on the field, his effectiveness is going to go up. However, they may well be better than the 1,359 yards and nine touchdowns he posted last year, as long as Prescott doesn’t miss five games like he did last season. With Gallup and Brandin Cooks on the field, defenses are going to have to choose their poison. The production of all three should be up and down from week to week, with different leaders depending on how the opponent handles things. And that seems like a perfectly good thing.

Mike - It’s quite funny to hear people asking whether Lamb was a missed pick by Dallas when they could have picked Justin Jefferson. Lamb last year produced as a top-5 wide receiver and that was on a season where he lost his starting quarterback for a quarter of the year. Expect Lamb’s production to go up providing nothing major happens in terms of injury. What also helps Lamb is the fact that both Gallup and Cooks can play outside meaning he can play his more natural position as the slot receiver. This is going to be the biggest factor for Lamb this season and he’s going to be one of the biggest pass-catching threats in the NFL this year. Lamb is getting over 100 receptions this year, will get over 1,400 receiving yards and score ten touchdowns. A super season for Lamb coming up.

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Brandin Cooks #3
Age: 29
Experience: 10 years
College: Oregon State

2022 Stats: (Houston)
Total Snaps- 657
Targets- 93
Receptions- 57
Receiving Yards- 699
Receiving TD- 3
Yards Per Reception- 12.3
Drops- 6
First Downs- 29

2023 Contract:
Cap Cost- $6,000,000 (2.6% Total Cap)
Dead Cap- $12,000,000
Base Salary- $4,000,000
Signing Bonus- $0

2023 Projection:
Tom - Cooks has six 1,000 yard seasons in his nine year career, and it is certainly arguable that he has never had a quarterback of Prescott’s prowess throwing to him. Last year he missed four games and only had 699 yards, but that was still more than any receiver not named Lamb on the Cowboys roster in 2022. Despite concerns about his age, he is definitely an upgrade for the team. If defenses focus on taking Lamb away, then Cooks should be able to take up the slack quite effectively. He might not be a 1,000 yard receiver this year, but if he can put up 800 yards and a half dozen TDs, he will be a big help for the offense. A lot of this depends on how the coaches use him and the rest of the receivers. Yes, we are looking at you, Mike McCarthy. He can definitely be a valuable chess piece.

Mike - One thing this offense has been missing is a downfield burner that poses that deep threat defenses need to account for. Cooks will be the player that makes every other wide receiver better. He’s been forced on other offenses to be the main receiver, and although he’s been fine in that role, he’s always been an elite WR2. Lamb is the main target on this offense so that fills Cooks requirements nicely and he will not have to be concerned about the pressure that comes with that role. Another good point looking back at Cooks’ history is given his age and skill set, he doesn’t have an alarming injury history, so there’s nothing at this stage of his career that will hinder his abilities. Cooks is set for 1,000 yards receiving seven touchdowns. He will have a couple of games where he will be most productive receiver, like maybe against the Giants where he catches for more than 150 yards and scores two touchdowns.

Michael Gallup #13
Age: 27
Experience: 6 years
College: Colorado State

2022 Stats:
Total Snaps- 832
Targets- 74
Receptions- 39
Receiving Yards- 424
Receiving TD- 4
Yards Per Reception- 10.9
Drops- 4
First Downs- 25

2023 Contract:
Cap Cost- $6,773,522 (2.9% Total Cap)
Dead Cap- $19,000,000
Base Salary- $1,600,000
Signing Bonus- $2,000,000

2023 Projection:
Tom - Health is everything, but if Gallup is truly recovered, expect him to have a better season than Cooks. He has been catching passes from Prescott his entire career, and chemistry is important. If healthy, Gallup will be the second 1,000 yard receiver on the roster, and may be the real complication for defenses to handle. He has some impressive ball skills that will just have the QB looking to him even more.

Mike - Last year Gallup was definitely not himself and a lot of his problems were due to athleticism. The team needed Gallup and he was more than likely brought in earlier than he should have been and the results showed. He may of been medically able to play last year but that doesn’t mean he was fully able to play. A year removed from the recovery, Gallup will be more himself and NFL players have spoken many times about how different they feel the year after an ACL injury. He gets to practice more with the first team and Dak which only further helps with his chemistry this year, a bounce-back season coming up. Let’s say with everything else going on with the offense, Gallup should look to get 60 receptions, 900 yards and five or six touchdowns.

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

KaVontae Turpin #9
Age: 26
Experience: 2 years
College: TCU

2022 Stats:
Total Snaps- 236
Targets- 2
Receptions- 1
Receiving Yards- 9
Punt Returns- 29
Return Yards- 303
Punt Return Avg- 10.9
Kickoff Returns- 21
Return Yards- 508
K/O Return Avg- 24.2

2023 Contract:
Cap Cost- $870,000 (0.3% Total Cap)
Dead Cap- $0
Base Salary- $870,000
Signing Bonus- $0

2023 Projection:
Tom - My heart says use him like a WR4, like Cedrick Wilson was. The idea of putting him and Deuce Vaughn both in the pattern is intriguing, particularly in a bunched formation to see if the coverage loses track of one of them. But that might not happen. He will be on the team as the punt returner (kickoff returns could become very rare with the new fair catch rules) and may see very limited usage as a receiver, just as he did last year. But there is a new play-caller and offensive coordinator in the house, so we will see if that changes.

Mike - This is a tricky one to predict, but based on what the team has done in the offseason with the additions at wide receiver and running back, it’s more than likely Turpin will be used solely as a return specialist. There are other players now on the roster that have the skills and experience to play on punt returns so he has some competition. But the fact he did well last year in the role he pretty much solidifies that position. If he can flash enough in practice sessions or preseason games as a receiver, he could get extra snaps on offense this year, but for now it’s more wait and see.

Jalen Tolbert #18
Age: 24
Experience: 2 Years
College: South Alabama

2022 Stats:
Total Snaps- 142
Targets- 3
Receptions- 2
Receiving Yards- 12
Yards Per Reception- 6.0

2023 Contract:
Cap Cost- $1,167,209 (0.5% Total Cap)
Dead Cap- $686,301
Base Salary- $938,442
Signing Bonus- $228,767

2023 Projection:
Tom - Tolbert will be why Turpin is still no better than WR5. He had a rough start to his career, but he should take a major step forward this year and be the one who fills that Wilson role mentioned above. He may only see about 400 yards receiving, but with the starting three, that may be all that is there for him. The big question is whether he can step up if needed, and that very much remains to be seen.

Mike - Tolbert was maybe more undeveloped than what we thought. You can give allowance in the rookie year to get up to speed with the level of the game as well as the playbook. But when you get the chance and look that out of sync the way he did, that’s the biggest concern. Sure he’s going to make improvements this year, but that’s not hard to be beat from last season’s numbers. The biggest question is how much of a jump will he make. Until we see more of where he’s at, it’s hard to know how much impact he will make in his second year.

Simi Fehoko #81
Age: 25
Experience: 3 Years
College: Stanford

2022 Stats:
Total Snaps- 79
Targets- 4
Receptions- 3
Receiving Yards- 24
Yards Per Reception- 8.0
First Downs- 1

2023 Contract:
Cap Cost- $1,000,038 (0.4% Total Cap)
Dead Cap- $120,076
Base Salary- $940,000
Signing Bonus- $69,038

2023 Projection:
Tom - If the team rolls with six on the roster, Fehoko has a big leg up because of his experience. That is not assured, he is on the bubble. Even if they do roll with six, Fehoko will have to fend off all the other hopefuls seeking to break through in preseason. There is always at least one that gets everyone excited in camp.

Mike - He has always had the look and feel of the physically big receiver, and in the redzone on Mike McCarthy’s West Coast offense could be the way he gets utilized more this season. His size, athleticism and ability to win jump balls make him a great big redzone target.

Additional Mentions:

Jalen Moreno-Cropper #16

Mike - He was my highest ranked UDFA player the Cowboys went out and snagged, he should be making a push for the practice squad with hope of getting elevated during the season to help.

Tom - He seems like one of the candidates to be a preseason star. But PS is probably his best bet.

Dennis Houston #17

Mike - Last year, Houston stood out in camp and preseason and this made everyone feel a little better after losing Amari Cooper (only a little). What was apparent though was his connection with Dak was his biggest strength, and when the Cowboys lost their starting quarterback, Houston also lost his biggest positive. It will be interesting to see how Houston starts off again this year and if he ends up on the final 53.

Tom - Can he shine again in camp? Or was he a one-hit wonder? Probably the latter. His performance in August last year may have been more about the lack of competition than anything.

Jalen Brooks #83

Mike - Brooks is intriguing. The Cowboys drafted him with their final pick, which tells you they didn’t want him to hit the UDFA market. He has the ability to win contested catches and high-points the ball. It’s always handy to have a jump-ball specialist on the roster and Brooks fits that role. He has every chance to make the final 53 on an already stacked receiver corps.

Tom - If you have been paying attention, you know that Brooks is going to get a chance to show what he can do. Dallas hates to give up on draft picks, even seventh-rounders. He might not make the 53, but expect him to be on the PS at worst.

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