What Should The Dallas Cowboys Do Regarding Their Wide Receiver Situation?

February 21, 2022

Many Factors For The Dallas Cowboys Brass To Consider

What Is The Dallas Cowboys Salary Cap Predicament?

Presently, the Dallas Cowboys are estimated to be $21.5 million over the projected cap for 2022. The Cowboys will almost certainly bring this number down (and even create some room for themselves) by restructuring some of their existing contracts. That is, they can effectively kick the can down the road by converting some base salaries into signing bonus money.

Nevertheless, with 24 of their players set to become free agents, the Cowboys have their work cut out for them and will certainly not be able to keep everyone. With such notable contributors as Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, Dalton Schultz, Connor Williams, Randy Gregory, Dorance Armstrong, Leighton Vander Esch, Jayron Kearse, Damontae Kazee, etc., the Cowboys have some serious decisions to make. 

Will The Dallas Cowboys Re-Sign WR Michael Gallup?

In his recently published article, Prime Time Cowboys’ own Nolan Brooks lays out the pros and cons of re-signing WR Michael Gallup. Whether or not the Cowboys should sign Gallup or not would seem to depend on a few things. The Cowboys have to decide what they will do with WR Amari Cooper and, to a lesser extent WR Cedric Wilson. If they choose to keep Cooper, they will almost certainly have to let Gallup walk. 

Amari Cooper Is The X-Factor

Amari Cooper made $22 million last year and is scheduled to make $22 million over the next three years. The Cowboys can get out from under Cooper’s hefty contract by trading or releasing him. 

What Are The Salary Cap Ramifications Of Parting With Amari Cooper?

As Patrik Walker of CBS Sports explains, the Cowboys could free up $16 million in salary-cap space for 2022 if they released Cooper before June 1.

However, if they released or traded him after June 1 (assuming another team was willing to take on his salary), the Cowboys could create as much as $20 million in cap relief.

Is Trading Amari Cooper The Best Option?

In my opinion, trading Amari Cooper after June 1 would be the best outcome for the Cowboys. In addition to the huge cap relief it would provide, it would be nice for the Cowboys to get something in return.

Some pundits have speculated that the Cowboys could even get a Day 2 pick for Cooper. And trading Cooper would also have the added benefit of controlling where he lands. No Cowboy fan wants to see Cooper in the NFC East next year.

What Is The Most Likely Outcome With Amari Cooper?

Another option for the Cowboys is to keep Amari Cooper by restructuring his contract. If they did this, they could gain more than $12.5 million in cap relief for 2022. 

And knowing how they do business, I can see the Cowboys going this route, unfortunately. Whenever they think they are close, Jerry Jones and co. always seems to want to run it back. 

It won’t be until the wheels finally fall off that Jones will be willing to abandon his initial plan. As I argued in a previous article, the Cowboys need to make decisions based on what is best for the team rather than what is best for Jerry Jones’s ego and reputation.

Jones loves to have big-name, luxury pieces. And he did, after all, once upon a time trade a first-round pick for Cooper. As a result, Jones will give Cooper every chance to prove he was right all along. Consequently, as it is cost-prohibitive to keep both, I do not see them bringing back Michael Gallup.

What Do I Think The Dallas Cowboys Should Do?

Move On From Amari Cooper

As I stated above, I think that the Cowboys would be best served moving on from Amari Cooper (hopefully via trade to maximize cap savings and return on investment). Do not get me wrong, though. I still believe Amari Cooper is a very good WR and can certainly help a team. 

Why Did Amari Cooper Not Perform Better Last Season?

As last season demonstrated, the Cowboys have not maximized Amari Cooper’s talents. Is this on Cooper himself? Or is Dak Prescott simply not the kind of QB that can take Cooper’s game to an elite level? Or maybe offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and his inexperience are to blame? 

Whatever the reason, it is a moot point. Prescott and Moore will both be back in Big D next season. If they are not going to use Cooper, it is better to cut bait and go with a cheaper option. The production that Cooper gave the Cowboys last year does not justify his exorbitant salary.

The Dallas Cowboys Need To Run More And Pass Less

And if there is one thing we learned from last year, the Cowboys probably need to pass less (not more) to be effective. They need to be physical and get their running game going to be the best version of themselves. When the Cowboys are truly rolling, they are balanced and use the run to set up the pass and control the game’s flow. 

Amari Cooper’s Mediocre Production Does Not Justify His Hefty Contract

And from a production standpoint, the Cowboys would not be losing much at all if Cooper leaves. If you take out the two big games that Cooper had against the Bucs (in Week 1) and the Vikings (in Week 7), Cooper only posted 604 yards in the other 13 games he played. That is less than 50 yards a game, folks! That is nowhere near the kind of production or consistency you would hope to get from the highest-paid WR in the NFL last year.

Bring Back Michael Gallup And Bolster The Defense

Assuming Michael Gallup’s medicals check out, I would look to sign him over many years at a reasonable number. He is the younger, cheaper option here. Some pundits have speculated that Gallup could be signed to a long-term contract at approximately $1214 million per year. All things considered, that would seem to be money well spent for the Cowboys.

Moreover, with the additional $7 million that keeping Gallup over Cooper would provide, I would even consider bringing back WR Cedrick Wilson. However, more importantly, I would prioritize keeping defensive stalwarts such as DE Randy Gregory and SS Jayron Kearse in the fold.

The Dallas Cowboys Need To Be Shrewed In How They Conduct Business

The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of work to do. The first step, I believe, is to move on from players that are vastly underperforming their contracts whenever it makes financial sense to do so. This makes even more sense when you consider that the team has other solid options to replace the departing player’s production.

RB Ezekiel Elliot is the poster boy for overpaid Cowboys who are failing to live up to their contracts. Unfortunately, the Cowboys have no choice but to keep him due to the huge hit in dead cap money they would incur if they cut ties with him this offseason.

However, with Amari Cooper, the Cowboys now have a chance to move on, and they should take it. DE Demarcus Lawrence should also be a candidate to follow Cooper out the door. The only question is whether a $19 million dead cap hit is worth the $8 million of cap space his departure would provide. But that is a story for another day.

Thank you for reading!

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