As we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, the Cowboys haven’t made a big splash in free agency this offseason. Dallas still has $15 million worth of ceiling space, according to above the ceilingbut it seems unlikely that they’ll use much, if any, of that money for the remaining free agents.
Of the moves Dallas made, the most impactful was bringing back Michael Gallup to a five-year contract. The 26-year-old wide was given a five-year, $57.5 million deal, but only $23 million of that is guaranteed.
While that might seem like a lot of money, if you look at how the contract is broken down, the Cowboys were smart in how they structured the deal. Just over a week ago, our very own Tom Ryle breached Gallup’s contract, showing that it’s actually a pretty favorable deal for the team.
Here are some thoughts from Tom on the Gallup contract.
There are two things that make this doable for the team. First, the fully guaranteed money is low and only applies for the first two seasons. He received a $10 million signing bonus, which is pro-rated at $2 million per year for the five years. This is possible dead money. His base salary for 2022 and 2023 is fully guaranteed. He’s only $2 million this season, which is why his cap is only a little over $4.5 million. The 2023 base salary is $11 million. That means the real guarantee is only $13 million on top of his signing bonus.
But the team has also implemented a small injury insurance. $1 million of his salary each year is in the form of a per-game availability payment. In other words, for any game he is unable to play, the team saves $58,524 in salary. There’s also a $500,000-per-year training de-escalation that shouldn’t come into play, but reflects the number of players last year who opted to stay away from team facilities at the following the COVID situation.
While financially this may be a relatively favorable deal for the team, there is always a risk in giving money to a player who only played nine games last season and is coming off a torn ACL. .
The biggest risk in the Gallup deal, beyond money and time, is that the Cowboys are banking on him being able to replace production Amari Cooper. Although Gallup is very talented, it will not be easy to replace Cooper. In seven NFL seasons, Cooper caught at least 75 passes and eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards five times. Gallup only recorded one 1,000-yard season and never caught more than 66 passes in a season.
Rolling the dice on Gallup has some questioning Dallas’ decision to keep him over Cooper. Gallup was even named the ‘The Cowboys’ worst free agent signing of the offseason’ in a recent article by Alex Kay of the launderer’s report.
Here’s what Kay had to say about Gallup.
Michael Gallup is a talented receiver, but is coming off a torn ACL and has been far less productive over the past four years than teammate Amari Cooper.
While Dallas had the luxury of getting rid of Cooper due to the emergence of 2020 first-round pick CeeDee Lamb, his receiving corps is no longer one of the deepest and most dangerous in the NFL.
Losses to Cooper, compatriot Cedrick Wilson Jr. and right tackle La’el Collins dealt a major blow to an offense that ranked No. 1 in the league last year in yards and points and tied second in passing yards.
Whether those moves will cost the club a chance to make back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since the 2006-07 seasons remains to be seen, but the departures certainly won’t help.
While Gallup is an exciting player, it’s hard to disagree with Kay’s point. The much safer decision would have been to spend a little more money, keep Cooper, and let Gallup walk free will.
We probably won’t know if the Cowboys made the right call in picking Gallup over Cooper for a few years, but there’s certainly enough risk to be cause for concern.