He’s still with the Dallas Cowboys, but already an appropriate question feels like, “Didn’t you used to be Michael Gallup?”
This is hard to watch. It’s hard to watch because Michael Gallup is a good guy, and you want to see good guys do well.
Right now, #13 for the Dallas Cowboys is not doing well.
In the Cowboys’ 41-35 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night in Arlington, eight different players caught a pass from quarterback Dak Prescott. One who didn’t is their sixth-year receiver from Colorado State.
Of the many moves the Cowboys have made over the last several years, handing Gallup his five-year $62.5 million contract in March of 2022 continues to look worse with every snap of the ball.
He was the receiver the Cowboys envisioned would supply Amari Cooper-level production; they traded Cooper around the same time they extended Gallup.
When the Cowboys gave Gallup that contract, they did so knowing he was still recovering from a torn left ACL he suffered on a touchdown catch in a Week 17 loss against Arizona at the end of the 2021 season.
Not all ACL recoveries from the same.
Too many times players, and their teams, believe every ACL recovery should take the Adrian Peterson route; the former Minnesota Vikings running back tore his ACL and MCL on Dec. 24, 2011.
In 2012, Peterson ran for 2,097 yards, and he played nine more NFL seasons.
AD ruined the ACL curve.
Since Gallup returned, he hasn’t looked the same but for a few moments.
We are seeing a similar post-surgery life for Cowboys right tackle Terence Steele; he tore his left MCL and ACL in December of 2022, and he has struggled in 2023.
The hope was that Gallup’s 2022 season was a result of recovering from that injury. He caught 39 passes for 424 yards last season in 14 games.
The way this is all playing out, what he did in 2022 may just be who Gallup is. In 12 games this season, he has 28 receptions for 357 yards.
He has fallen behind second-year receiver Jalen Tolbert, and free agent veteran acquisition Brandin Cooks. Cooks is a different player, whereas Tolbert is similar to Gallup.
This roster is not exactly Mariana Trench-deep at wide receiver. More like the kiddie pool.
Tolbert is not exactly killing it, but at this point this move may simply be more about “Getting in the way of progress.” If you think the guy on the bench has a greater upside than the starter, because the incumbent has hit his ceiling, you switch.
Since Gallup, 27, came out of Colorado State, he was never a Larry Fitzgerald-type of route runner. Considering that Gallup maybe ran all of three different routes in his time at CSU, it’s amazing he’s progressed as well as he has.
In the Cowboys’ playoff loss at San Francisco in January, one of Dak’s two interceptions could be pointed at Gallup’s lazy route. Gallup had no receptions that afternoon on three targets.
Gallup’s skill and talent is (was?) speed, and an ability to “go up and get it.” Guys who can consistently win a 50-50 ball against a defensive back are valuable. It was an asset that made Dez Bryant such a problem during his career.
If the Cowboys aren’t comfortable calling those plays where Dak throws a glorified jump ball for Gallup to win, then ... why is Gallup here?
He’s still a capable blocker, which has value but, if the wide receiver isn’t catching passes and making plays in the passing game there is a problem.
The Cowboys have five games remaining in the regular season, and then into the playoffs. Those games will effectively serve as Gallup’s time to prove what value he brings to this offense, if any.
Because, right now, the question “Didn’t you used to be Michael Gallup?” feels sadly appropriate.