Michael Gallup’s timing could not possibly have been worse.
On one hand, Gallup’s back-shoulder touchdown grab against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17 was exactly the kind of play that reminds you of the talent Gallup possesses, which never hurts just before entering NFL free agency for the first time in Gallup’s career.
The problem is, Gallup tore up his left knee on the play, and that puts the Dallas Cowboys receiver in a truly awkward place as free agency is set to begin March 16.
Before the injury, Gallup was set to be among the most sought-after free-agent wide receivers in the league, and even though he probably won’t be able to get back on the field until September at the earliest, he still should command a fair amount of attention from teams seeking help at wideout.
But unable to pass a physical and with a timetable tentative at best, it seems certain that Gallup’s market value has taken an unfortunate hit. Still, were will Gallup end up in 2022? Here is a breakdown of the most likely landing spots:
The Cowboys are over the cap by about $21 million, but they could gain about $50 million by restructuring deals for Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott and DeMarcus Lawrence.
That would put them in pretty good position to re-sign Gallup and their other top free-agent-to-be, Randy Gregory.
Gallup told Heavy.com earlier this month that he would like to stay with the Cowboys, but not necessarily at a hometown discount.
“I hope I did enough here in Dallas over the last four years to get what I deserve,” Gallup said. “I know this past year wasn’t the best for me or anything, but I hope I’ve done enough and put enough on film to where the injury that I just had isn’t going to weigh me down too much. So, that’s what I’m hoping to get out of free agency. … I know the Cowboys enjoy me being on their team.
“Honestly, they haven’t really said a whole lot to me [about the future]. I just have that feeling that they might work with me on it, they might work with me on it. So, we’ll see how it goes.”
If the Cowboys decide a core of Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Noah Brown and Cedric Wilson is good enough for 2022, where might Gallup wind up? He may not have to go far, as the Houston Texans are still trying to replace DeAndre Hopkins. Not to say that Gallup is that level of player, but the Texans have to do something to give Davis Mills a chance, as Brandin Cooks was the only reliable pass-catcher for Davis Mills last season.
Nico Collins certainly wasn’t the answer this past season, and while the Texans will certainly give their top 2021 draft pick every opportunity to succeed, but having a veteran with a solid track record to take some of the pressure off both Collins and Cooks is a primary need for Houston, and given Gallup’s injury situation, they might be able to get him somewhat under market value.
New England Patriots
At some point, the Patriots have got to do something about their abysmal wide receiver situation. It undoubtedly played a role in Tom Brady’s departure two years ago and it’s not doing Mac Jones any favors, either. The Patriots tried to fix the problem last year in free agency with the likes of Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor, but neither showed the kind of consistency the Patriots needed.
A healthy Gallup would be one of the best deep threats the Patriots have had since Randy Moss. Seriously. As great as they were guys like Wes Welker and Julian Edelman were not field-stretchers. This is what the Patriots need, and Gallup would give it to them.
Michael Pittman was outstanding in 2021, but he could not do it alone, and with Jonathan Taylor commanding so much attention, having another deep threat in the lineup that Carson Wentz can count on could change the entire dynamic of the Indianapolis Colts’ offense.
Forcing teams to account for a receiver taking the top off a defense is only going to make Taylor that much more dangerous. Gallup can be the man and come in at a discount to a similar free-agent receiver like Mike Williams.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference