Two Cowboys Stars That Aren’t Shining So Bright

So far this season, the stars have come to play for the Dallas Cowboys. Dak Prescott may take the MVP award home, CeeDee Lamb is having the best season from a wide receiver in Cowboys history, and DaRon Bland broke the NFL record for the most pick-sixes in a season. However, the Cowboys have two stars that haven’t shined as bright.

This past offseason, they franchise tagged Tony Pollard and may be in the market for another running back. On the other side of Lamb, they were hoping Michael Gallup would further elevate his game and gel into a nightmare matchup for defensive backs. Neither one has quite performed to the standards and their future with the team hangs in a balance.

Two Cowboys Stars That Aren’t Shining So Bright

Tony Pollard

After last season it’s understandable why the Cowboys decided to move on from Ezekiel Elliott and make Tony Pollard the featured back. Pollard, who rushed for 1,000 yards for the first time in his career also accounted for over 1,300 scrimmage yards and 12 touchdowns. He would earn his first Pro Bowl honors and looked as if it was his time to be the workhorse.

His 2023-2024 campaign hasn’t matched his productivity from the previous year. So far he’s rushed for a quiet 935 yards and five touchdowns, but he’s averaging a career-low in yards per carry. Pollard has only eclipsed 100 rushing yards once this season and hasn’t rushed for over 60 yards in his last four games. His numbers may not be as attractive as he would like but statically he’s a top 10 running back in yardage. He’s currently ranked 10th in rushing and only needs 65 yards to reach 1,000 for the season.

This season was supposed to be a prove-it year for the Pro Bowl running back who’s playing on a fully guaranteed $10.091 million franchise tag. He isn’t having his best season but they shouldn’t move on from the 26-year-old running back who still has lots of value and upside. He’s still bouncing back from his injury in last year’s Divisional game and they should remain patient as he continues to regain that burst and acceleration that he’s played with throughout his career.

Moving on after one down season wouldn’t be ideal but considering the options available this upcoming offseason, there are a lot of household names that would look good with a star on their helmet. However, with his $6.6 million market value if the Cowboys can sign him to a deal that won’t break the bank, it’ll be best to keep him in Dallas for a few more years.

Michael Gallup

When the Cowboys signed wide receiver Michael Gallup to a five-year $57.5 million extension, they were hoping he would finally return to his pre-ACL form. Dallas was so confident in Gallup that they traded wide receiver Amari Cooper away to the Cleveland Browns for a pair of late-round picks. Well, Cooper is having the most productive season of his career in 2023-2024, being named an AFC Pro Bowler. Yet, Gallup has struggled to generate even half the production of Cooper and leaves Dallas with a difficult decision to make regarding him and his contract in the offseason.

Gallup was supposed to be “the guy” behind Lamb but Brandin Cooks has stepped in and overtaken the wide receiver two spot. In the final weeks of 2023, Gallup continued to see his snaps drop, with second-year wide receiver Jalen Tolbert cutting into his reps. Since Week 8, Tolbert has out-snapped him four times and has nearly identical amounts of snaps each week. In Week 17, Gallup only played 20 snaps which resulted in 31% of the offensive snaps.

Through 16 games, Gallup recorded 34 receptions, 418 yards, and two touchdowns. Those numbers are on pace to be the lowest of his career beyond his rookie year and when healthy. Gallup’s best game in 2023 came in Week 3, where he recorded six catches for 92 yards. From Weeks 4-17, he hasn’t had a game with six or more receptions or 80 receiving yards.

Gallup’s cap hit for the 2024 season would be $13.85 million, not to mention a $4 million injury guarantee that’s owed on the fifth day of the league year. If Dallas decides to move on, the Cowboys would have to eat $13 million unless they designated Gallup as a post-June 1st release.

As the Cowboys get into their playoff stretch, they will need productivity and efficiency from everyone. If Gallup doesn’t elevate his game in the playoffs it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Cowboys look to shop him ahead of free agency and the draft or decide to outright release him.

Main Image: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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