Amari Cooper got the money of a No. 1 receiver. He has the title with where he was drafted by the Raiders and with what the Cowboys gave up to get him.
But is he?
Michael Gallup was the best wideout on the Cowboys’ roster to close out the 2019 season. In the final seven games, Cooper made 26 receptions for 341 yards and a touchdown and the memory lingers of the receiver standing on the sideline late in a loss to Philadelphia in Week 16.
In that same span, Gallup made 33 receptions for 577 yards and three touchdowns. Dak Prescott targeted Gallup 57 times to 48 for Cooper in those seven games.
Gallup ended up with only 82 fewer yards than Cooper for the season.
The Cowboys drafted CeeDee Lamb in the first round this spring, but they haven’t forgotten about Gallup.
“Let’s make it clear: Michael Gallup’s a No. 1 receiver in my view,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday. “I think we’re very fortunate to have three players with that level of potential to go out and play at that level. I’ve been so impressed not only with what Michael’s done on film last year. He was definitely one of the players that really jumped off the video during the offseason study, because I didn’t know a whole lot about Michael until last year. He’s primed to take that next step.”
Gallup, 24, enters his third season with a big payday looming in 2022 if not sooner. He might have to go somewhere else to be considered a No. 1 receiver, or maybe, after two more seasons like last season, the Cowboys decide he’s too good to let go.
“You definitely want to think of yourself as a No. 1 receiver,” Gallup said Tuesday. “I’ll never tell myself or anyone else that I’m the No. 1. But always practice like you are, and you play like you are. I appreciate it from coach [McCarthy], but I would never say that about myself.”
Lamb has said it’s “very realistic” to think the Cowboys could have three 1,000-yard receivers, seconding Cooper’s goal. It’s certainly not unrealistic since Cooper and Gallup both topped 1,000 yards last season, though no Cowboys rookie ever has had 1,000 yards.
“When we drafted him, I’m already thinking, Amari went over 1,000 yards. I went over 1,000 yards,” Gallup said, “and then you pick up one of the best wide receivers coming out. This is a three-headed monster.”