Yet again, through no fault of his own, Michael Gallup finds himself at the center of the NFL rumor mill.
With 24 days until the 2021 draft, there is now speculation the Dallas Cowboys will select Florida tight end Kyle Pitts with the No. 10 overall pick and subsequently trade the walk-year wide receiver — the would-be odd man out of the offensive pecking order.
The idea was initially broached by Jess Haynie of Inside The Star, who believes Dallas has hedged and could continue to hedge against Gallup’s potential departure next offseason.
“Part of the assumed logic in Dallas picking Lamb last year was to prepare for Michael’s potential departure. Lamb could move into the starting lineup with multiple years left on his rookie deal, keeping the finances in balance,” Haynie wrote on April 1.
“This is where Kyle Pitts, a potential generational talent at tight end, could quickly become more than just a luxury. As soon as 2022, Pitts could replace Gallup as a top-three receiving threat for the Cowboys.”
But, yet again, the media-made creation was debunked as … just that.
“We’ve seen speculation that Dallas would draft tight end Kyle Pitts in the No. 10 slot in the upcoming NFL Draft and then trade Gallup, because who needs all those pass-catchers? But that idea comes from the media, not from here inside The Star. (It also ignores the distinct possibility that Pitts is selected by the Bengals at No. 5, five spots ahead of Dallas.)” Mike Fisher of CowboysSI.com wrote Sunday.
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The trade winds won’t stop blowing in Gallup’s face. They grew so intense last season, the team was forced to dispel lingering chatter regarding the 25-year-old, who was promptly removed from the block.
Gale-force gusts nevertheless have emanated from The Star in the months since the 2020 campaign concluded. First, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora suggested the Cowboys ship away Gallup in order to pay then-unsigned quarterback Dak Prescott.
“I think they should entertain [a trade],” La Canfora said March 2 on 105.3 The Fan’s Shan & RJ. “CeeDee Lamb is gonna be a guy [entering] year two. After year three, if he’s who they drafted him to be, then you’ve got that situation. Could you trade Amari Cooper? Sure, but you just paid him. Contractually, it’s a different situation than if you traded the younger guy, a guy who’s still a bargain right now.”
Then, “national insider” CJ Golson, “reporting” via Twitter, claimed on March 18 that Dallas held “preliminary” discussions on a deal that’d send Gallup to the New England Patriots in exchange for star cornerback Stephon Gilmore. (This rumor was never corroborated.)
Gallup fell short of lofty expectations following a 2019 breakout in which he produced 1,107 yards and six touchdowns on 66 catches (113 targets), a fixture in the Cowboys’ top-ranked passing attack. He finished 2020 with 59 receptions for 843 yards and five TDs, sagging stats owed to the loss of Prescott (ankle injury).
If Gallup were traded pre-June 1, the Cowboys would save $2.43 million while eating $222,495 in dead money. If retained, he will count $2,655,495 against the salary cap.
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‘Sprint’ for Pitts?
The imposing Gators product is considered the best receiving prospect in this year’s class. A rocked-up 6-foot-6, 245 pounds with 4.44 speed and the longest wingspan (83 3/8″) of any wide receiver or tight end in the last 20 years, Pitts is a presumptive top-10 selection who may be off the board well before the Cowboys go on the clock.
However, should the Football Gods smile upon Jerry and Stephen Jones, the team’s owner and executive vice president need not look a gift horse in the mouth — and “sprint” Pitts’ draft card to the podium in Cleveland, urged former NFL general manager Michael Lombardi.
“If he makes to them, (they should) sprint that card in. Are you kidding me? The tight end is the most versatile player in all of football,” Lombardi said last month on 105.3 The Fan. “The one thing about the tight end is they create matchup problems (all over the field).”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL