Cowboys To Release WR Michael Gallup, LB Leighton Vander Esch

Less than a week after giving Michael Gallup permission to seek a trade, the Cowboys are moving on. They plan to release the veteran wide receiver, the Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken reports.

Gallup was due a $4MM guarantee on Monday. This will end a six-year partnership, with Dallas initially selecting Gallup in the 2018 third round. The TCU alum was set to enter the third season of a five-year, $57.5MM deal — one the Cowboys authorized in March 2022, as they traded Amari Cooper.

The Cowboys held out hope for a trade, per the Morning News’ Calvin Watkins, but teams effectively knew the team would cut him due to the injury guarantee vesting. The team will use a post-June 1 designation here,’s Todd Archer tweets. This move will spread out Gallup’s $13.1MM dead money hit, creating $9.5MM in cap space this year. Gallup, 28, was due $8.5MM in 2024 base salary.

Although Leighton Vander Esch is expected to retire, the Cowboys are also releasing the veteran linebacker. They will do so with a failed physical designation. Neck trouble has plagued the talented linebacker, and it recurred last season.

The turning point in Gallup’s career came in December 2021, when the former 1,100-yard receiver suffered a torn ACL. Gallup reached that four-digit total in 2019, just before CeeDee Lamb‘s arrival, and topped 800 yards with Cooper and Lamb in 2020. The Cowboys kept all three again in 2021, but after the expiration of Gallup’s rookie deal, the team gave Gallup a new deal and sent Cooper to the Browns. Cooper has continued to deliver 1,000-yard seasons in Cleveland, while Dallas has remained on the hunt for a No. 2 wideout. Even before the ACL tear, Gallup had no cleared 450 receiving yards. That trend continued from 2022-23.

After its much-publicized Odell Beckham Jr. crusade did not produce a signing in 2022, Dallas sent fifth- and sixth-round picks to Houston for Brandin Cooks. The oft-traded wideout remains under contract for 2024, with Lamb going into his fifth-year option season. Cooks totaled 657 yards in his Cowboys debut, with Jake Ferguson stepping up as a viable auxiliary target post-Dalton Schultz. Still, the Cowboys should be a candidate to add another Lamb supporting-caster soon.

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