The Dallas Cowboys were one of the, if not THE, best offense in the NFL last season. Despite stumbling down the stretch, the Cowboys broke multiple records and lead in multiple efficiency categories.
Even with all their success on offense over the past few seasons, a return to dominance should not be a forgone conclusion for 2022. Not with rumblings of roster moves falling from the sky.
WR3 Michael Gallup, WR4 Cedrick Wilson, and TE1 Dalton Schultz are all set to hit free agency in coming days. All three played key roles for the Dallas Cowboys the last two seasons and all three would mark a significant loss in production. As if that wasn’t bad enough, WR1 Amari Cooper is potentially on the chopping block himself. This team might look considerably different in 2022…
What if the Dallas Cowboys say goodbye to Amari Cooper, Dalton Schultz, Michael Gallup, and Cedrick Wilson this year?
Roster churn is part of the game. We see 20-40% roster churn from the Dallas Cowboys nearly every season so suggesting significant roster changes are coming is “old hat” around Cowboys Nation.
But this year it might be different. With so many potential losses coming from the pass-catching department of the franchise, the ramifications could be significant. How significant?
The Dallas Cowboys completed a total of 444 passes last season. 226 of which came from the players listed above. That’s more than half. And if you take the 86 passes to Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard (since they’re of the check down variety) that means the vast majority of downfield passes went to the the players currently in question.
A common sentiment circulating Cowboys Nation these days is that the draft is a suitable solution to this WR churn. The thinking is – if Dallas’ veterans are too expensive, let’s cut them loose and replace them with a cheap rookie.
This may be a suitable solution to replacing one or even two of the players listed above but three or four? I don’t think so.
Keep in mind, the bust rate for WRs is roughly 50% in the top two rounds. More specifically, only half of WRs drafted in the top two rounds end up being starters for more than half of their careers. This isn’t a very high bar.
Now we’re talking about replacing a Pro Bowl talent like Amari with a rookie who only has a 50% chance of being a starter? Those are some ugly odds we’re playing with.
Replacing one starting pass-catcher with a rookie is a tough task. But it’s doable given the talent the Dallas Cowboys can put around said rookie. But replacing two or even three starters (WR3 is a starter on the Cowboys)? That’s almost impossible.
It all comes down to that top spot in the pecking order: Amari Cooper is the most irreplaceable pass catcher on the Dallas Cowboys. While a rookie or even Cedrick Wilson could conceivably replace Gallup’s production in Year 1, the chances of a rookie stepping into Cooper’s No. 1 WR role is slim to none at Pick 24.
Even Dalton Schultz is largely replaceable. Between Blake Jarwin, a rookie, and a street free agent, most of Schultz’s production can be replaced by a committee. The Dallas Cowboys can withstand a loss at TE as long as they have their WR corps humming.
But if you threaten to pillage the WR room from the top down, everything potentially crumbles. The magnitude of upheaval that’s on the table right now is concerning. The Cowboys can’t expect to withstand the loss of their WR1 without significant ramifications.
Keep in mind – the offensive line was one of the biggest problems down the stretch for Dallas. They need to invest premium picks to shore it up. If they are trying to replace Cooper, Gallup, and Schultz, where does that leave their O-line?
If you have to pick someone to go let it be Schultz and one of either Gallup or Wilson. Dallas can’t withstand the loss of both their WR3 and WR4, and they certainly can’t withstand the loss of a Pro Bowler like Amari.
The Dallas Cowboys need to focus on upgrading their O-line in the draft. They can’t be tasked with replacing half their pass-catchers instead.