Two former Cowboys are now bound for AFC rosters. Two days after Dallas traded Amari Cooper to Cleveland, Cedrick Wilson has committed to Miami, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets.
The Dolphins are giving Wilson a three-year deal worth $22.8MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. They are giving the former Cowboys supporting-caster $12.8MM guaranteed. His $4MM 2022 base salary is fully guaranteed, as is $5MM of his $7MM 2023 salary, according to PFF’s Doug Kyed (on Twitter).
Michael Gallup‘s injuries opened the door for extensive Wilson playing time last season, and it came at an ideal time for Wilson, who parlayed his contract year into a big raise. The former sixth-round pick had a breakout campaign in 2021, finishing with 45 receptions for 602 yards and six scores. The 26-year-old also returned a career-high 11 punts.
The Dolphins are likely moving on from Will Fuller, who only played three games for them after signing a one-year deal worth $10MM in 2021. The team still has longtime staple DeVante Parker and saw Jaylen Waddle emerge quickly as a go-to weapon. Wilson will join Miami’s mix, as the team transitions to a Mike McDaniel-run offense.
It remains to be seen if the organization is still targeting top-of-the-depth-chart receivers, although Wilson would be a logical number-three wideout behind Parker and Waddle. The Dolphins were connected to Cooper, who was born in Miami, before he landed with the Browns, and Miami was also mentioned as a suitor for DJ Chark.
The Cowboys will avoid letting wide receiver Michael Gallup hit the free agent market after to a five-year, $57.5MM deal, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (on Twitter). After trading awayAmari Cooper earlier this week, this moves cements that Dallas’s other three top pass catchers will be returning for the 2022 NFL season.
Gallup, 26, will collect $23MM in guarantees, with Pelissero noting this contract will max out at $62.5MM. A nice payday for Cooper’s former sidekick, whom the Cowboys have chosen over their four-year WR1.
A third-round pick out of Colorado State in 2018, Gallup broke out for 1,107 yards in 2019 alongside Cooper. The arrival of CeeDee Lamb in 2020 limited his production to a still impressive 843 yards as a number three receiver. Even in an injury-plagued 2021 season, Gallup enjoyed glimpses of success.
This news has been in the works for a while now with estimates that the Cowboys were aiming for a five-year pact with an annual average value around $10MM, but that Gallup’s camp may possibly having been pushing for a shorter commitment. Either the rumors about Gallup’s camp have been proven untrue or an annual average value of nearly $12MM was too enticing to turn down.
Regardless, the long-term, decently priced deal is a strong commitment to Gallup after he only played in nine games of his contract year due to a Week 1 calf injury and a season-ending ACL tear in Week 16. The contract seems to indicate that the Cowboys are confident in the medical information they are receiving on Gallup’s recovery.
There are lots of moving parts with the Cowboys’ plans right now. Even with the moves made to shed salary and push some cap charges down the road, finances will be tight for any further deals. As a result, wide receiver Cedrick Wilsonis likely to at least hit the open market.
The 26-year-old saw a much bigger role in 2021, and certainly took advantage of it. He posted 45 catches for 602 yards and six touchdowns, all career-highs. For that reason, Clarence Hill Jr. of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Cowboys “believe they will be priced out” of his market (Twitter link).
There is still interest on Dallas’ part for a return, however. Calvin Watkins of The Dallas Morning News tweets that the Cowboys want to bring him back, but that they will “want to see” what kind of market develops. With CeeDee Lambunder contract, a new deal with Michael Gallupreportedly close and tight end Dalton Schultzhaving been franchise tagged earlier today, a core group of pass-catchers is already in place in Dallas.
Watkins also reports that Hitchens “has a desire to return” to Dallas after his four-year stint in Kansas City. The 29-year-old was released by the Chiefs in a cost-cutting move, and a signal of their linebacking corps’ potential. Hitchens still played 60% of defensive snaps last season, more than he did in three of his four years with the Cowboys. His return would give the team an experienced, productive presence in the middle of the defense to pair with Micah Parsons. On the other hand, LB could be a draft target in April.
While much has been taken care of regarding the Cowboys’ big-name priorities in recent days, they face several other important decisions.
When attached to his rookie contract, Amari Cooper commanded a first-round pick in a trade. The Cowboys, who sent the Raiders their 2019 first ahead of the 2018 deadline, are not seeing nearly as much interest now that Cooper is tethered to a high-end receiver deal.
The Cowboys will try to trade Cooper, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes, but the veteran wideout has not drawn much interest. Even with teams having known the pricey wideout’s availability for weeks now, Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson notes teams are not lining up to acquire his current contract (Twitterlinks). Cooper’s deal runs through 2024 and carries a $22MM cap number for this season. One receiver-needy team informed Robinson it has no interest in Cooper at this price. If no reasonable trade offer emerges, the Cowboys intend to cut Cooper.
In recent years, the draft has begun to provide teams with quality value at receiver, with the past few classes being flush with pass-catching help. With those rookies tied to low-cost deals for at least three seasons, value for players like Cooper — who signed a five-year, $100MM deal in 2020 — diminishes.
The Cowboys moving Cooper off their roster before March 20 saves them $16MM, funds that could be allocated to some of the team’s impending free agents. Cooper’s $20MM base salary becomes fully guaranteed on that fifth day of the 2022 league year. The team is interested in retainingDalton Schultz, and Robinson adds it weighed Cooper’s cost with the ability to keep Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson and potentially Randy Gregory (Twitterlinks). Wilson, Gallup’s injury replacement in 2021, joins Gallup and Gregory in being on track for free agency. To go through with this plan, the Cowboys ($13.4MM over the cap) will need to make more moves to free up space.
Gallup potentially being available at a slight discount due to his ACL tear benefits the Cowboys, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes, potentially factoring into the team’s plan. Retaining Gallup would be a cheaper option than keeping Cooper, though losing the latter would stand to put more pressure on CeeDee Lamb, who has benefited from defenses’ attention to Cooper. The Cooper-or-Gallup long-term choice has been on the team’s radar for a while now, and it appears a decision has been made.
Despite having played seven seasons, Cooper is just 27. He would certainly draw extensive interest on the open market. The prospect of the Packers franchise-tagging Davante Adams and the Buccaneers using a second tag on Chris Godwin would enhance Cooper’s value, if the Cowboys indeed release him. Cooper is a four-time Pro Bowler who has posted five 1,000-yard seasons.
In the second quarter of today’s game against the Cardinals, Cowboys’ wide receiver Michael Gallup injured his knee while pirouetting back to the ball on a catch that resulted in a touchdown as he fell into the end zone. Upon landing, the 25-year old out of Colorado State immediately reached for his knee. Local Cowboys reporter Michael Gehlken was quick to tweet out a statement from team owner Jerry Jones after the game that Dallas believes Gallup has torn his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. Gallup will undergo an MRI exam on Monday to confirm the early diagnosis.
Gallup missed 8 weeks earlier in the season when he was placed on IR after straining his left calf in the Cowboys’ Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay. Since rejoining the team in Week 10, Gallup quickly regained his position as WR3, behind CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper. He was looking to play a crucial role in the league’s top offense, in terms of yards per game, as they roll into the playoffs. Dallas will rely on Boise State product Cedrick Wilson to fill the empty role, as they did during Gallup’s IR stint. Behind Wilson, reserve receivers Noah Brown, Malik Turner, and Simi Fehoko have spent time on the active roster, but haven’t shown much in terms of production.
This is unfortunate timing for Gallup as he will go into the offseason as a free agent. On the bright side, Gallup has given the league a strong sample of his work in previous years. In 2019, Gallup caught 66 balls for 1,107 yards and 6 touchdowns despite only playing in 14 games. Last year, despite competing with Cooper and Lamb for targets, Gallup still recorded 59 catches for 843 yards and 5 touchdowns. He showed similar yardage per game in his limited time this year. It looks like, due to an unfortunately timed injury, someone in the league will probably get a good deal on a solid starting receiver.
The first two defensive players the Titans took flyers on, Hector and Bello, both spent a little bit of time in Philadelphia with new Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Jones started three games for the Vikings last year.
We’ve compiled a handful of tender decisions below:
The Cardinals are tendering linebacker Dennis Gardeck at a second-round value, which is worth around $3.38MM. The former undrafted free agent has spent his entire three-year career with Arizona, primarily appearing on special teams. However, the 26-year-old took on a bigger defensive role in 2020, finished with seven sacks in only 93 snaps. Gardeck tore his ACL late in the season, so his status for 2021 is in doubt.
The Chargers won’t be tendering defensive end Isaac Rochell, which comes as a bit of a surprise. The 25-year-old had a solid season for Los Angeles, starting six games while compiling 29 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Rochell has 9.5 career sacks and 12 QB hits in 51 career games.
The Packers have tendered wideout Malik Taylor, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). After spending much of his rookie season on Green Bay’s practice squad, Taylor managed to appear in 15 games for the Packers this past season. He ultimately hauled in five receptions for 66 yards and one touchdown. He also returned a pair of kicks and compiled three tackles.
The Bills won’t be tendering cornerback Levi Wallace, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). However, there’s still a chance the 25-year-old lands back in Buffalo. The cornerback has started 28 games for Buffalo over the past two years, compiling four interceptions and 17 passes defended.
The Cowboys are tendering wideout Cedrick Wilson and nose tackle Antwaun Woods. Wilson has appeared in 22 games over the past two years, compiling 25 touches for 223 yards from scrimmage. Woods has started 32 of his 39 games for Dallas over the past three years, compiling 80, four tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks.
Interestingly Dallas’ hand was forced with Hyatt, as they promoted the offensive lineman because another team was trying to poach him away, a source told Calvin Watkins of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). He’s a rookie UDFA from Clemson. Elsewhere, the Dolphins are scooping up players from other teams left and right as they build for 2020.