As the NFL playoffs roll on, the Dallas Cowboys turn their attention to the 2024 season. With 14 pending free agents and some serious cap restraints, this offseason will bring some significant roster turnover in Dallas.
With that in mind, today we take a look at three players who have likely played their last game as a Cowboy.
1) RB Tony Pollard
Cowboys’ running back Tony Pollard had an up and down 2023 season. The 26-year-old finished the year with 1,005 rushing yards on 252 carries and a career-low 4.0 Y/A. Pollard did score six rushing touchdowns and posted a career-high 56 first down runs, but his effectiveness was low until halfway through the year, maybe a residual from injury.
In Dallas’ last eight regular season games Pollard recorded 29 first down runs, 14 broken tackles, and scored four of his six rushing touchdowns. He started to show flashes of looking like the explosive running back we saw in 2021 and 2022, but it never was consistent.
During his five-year tenure in Dallas Pollard was an extremely productive player, but bringing him back next season would not make much sense for both sides. According to Spotrac, Pollard is projected to earn a three-year, $19M contract on the open market. With Dallas’ cap restraints, signing Pollard to a multi-year deal just would not make much sense.
Pollard had a good run in Dallas, but the running back will likely look to cash in on a long-term deal this spring. With that in mind, he will almost certainly be playing for another team come September.
2) WR Michael Gallup
Injuries played a big factor, but the Cowboys signing Michael Gallup to a five-year deal back in March of 2022 is one of Dallas’ bigger swing and misses in recent memory. Gallup never seemed to recover from his ACL tear at the end of the 2021 regular season and was pretty much a non-factor in Dallas’ offense each of the past two years.
In 31 regular season games after the injury, Gallup recorded just 73 receptions for 842 yards, an average of just 27 yards per game, and posted a rough 55.7% catch percentage. In 10 of Gallups’ 31 post-injury games, he caught one or fewer passes. In Dallas’ final seven games of the 2023 regular season, the former third-round pick recorded one or fewer receptions five times.
It’s hard to see Gallup’s time in Dallas come to an end this way, but not cutting him this offseason would be mind-boggling. According to Over the Cap, Dallas can save $9M against the cap and suffer just $4M in dead money if Gallup is a post-June 1 cut.
This seems like a no-brainer decision and it’s almost a forgone conclusion Gallup has played his last down as a Cowboy.
3) CB Stephon Gilmore
Without Stephon Gilmore, the 2023 Cowboys might not be a playoff team. The veteran cornerback meant that much to Dallas’ defense, and stepped up in the biggest way after Trevon Diggs went down early in the season with a torn ACL.
The 33-year-old former All-Pro had a very productive season during his first year in Dallas. Gilmore finished the year with 55.8% completion percentage and 82.7 passer rating when targeted, and just four touchdowns allowed. In Dallas’ final nine regular season games, Gilmore allowed 215 total air yards, an average of just under 24 a game.
In Dallas’ playoff game against the Packers the veteran struggled a bit. Gilmore clearly was not 100% after injuring his shoulder against Washington and it showed. Still, Gilmore had a great year for the Cowboys and was an extremely valuable member of their defense.
In a perfect world, the Cowboys would bring Gilmore back and have arguably the best CB room in football next season with him, Trevon Diggs, and DaRon Bland. Unfortunately things aren’t always perfect, and Gilmore will likely price himself out of Dallas’ budget.
According to Spotrac, Gilmore is projected to earn a one-year, $11M deal this spring. While a one-year deal would make sense for the Cowboys, the number would have to be closer to $5-6M for Dallas to have a realistic chance at retaining the cornerback.
Gilmore was a great addition for the Cowboys but another contender with more cap space will likely pry him away this offseason.