The Dallas Cowboys have been one of the most successful regular season teams in the NFL over the last three seasons, but that does not mean they are in great shape overall. News broke on Thursday that Mike McCarthy would be returning in 2024 as the head coach. This comes after three-straight 12-win regular seasons but a 1-3 playoff record in that span.
It's not been pretty for the Cowboys when the postseason rolls around. The regular season success is all fine and dandy, but not showing up in the playoffs is a huge, huge issue. Not only do the Cowboys have that issue on their hands, but they also do have some contracts that just are not the best and are kind of holding them back.
3 contracts holding the Dallas Cowboys back from major success
1. Dak Prescott, 2024 Cap Hit: $59.455 million
This is the most obvious contract that is currently holding the Dallas Cowboys back. I think this cap hit would be fine if Prescott was a truly elite passer in the tier with Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson, but he just isn't. There were reports that the Cowboys could look to extend Prescott this offseason, as 2024 would be the last year of his deal.
I think an extension that lowers the cap hit is the only way forward here. Having a cap hit of almost $60 million is not feasible for the NFC East version of Kirk Cousins.
2. DeMarcus Lawrence, 2024 Cap Hit: $20.455 million
Right now, DeMarcus Lawrence is slated to have a cap hit of over $20 million in 2024. Lawrence is entering his age-32 season and had just four sacks and eight QB hits in 2023, starting all 17 games. Lawrence just is not the same player he was in 2017 and 2018, the two best years of his career, and with the Cowboys being in a bit of a cap crunch, doing something with Lawrence's contract would be a smart move.
However, a post-June 1st cut forces the Cowboys to eat $10 million in dead money and have cap savings of $10 million, so that option doesn't seem likely. Dallas might be stuck with D-Law for another year.
3. Michael Gallup, 2024 Cap Hit: $13.85 million
The average annual value of Michael Gallup's contract is $11.5 million. Over the last three seasons, Gallup has played in 40 games. He's caught 108 passes for 1,287 yards and eight touchdowns. Those splits come out to be 2.7 receptions per game and just 32.2 yard per game. His catch percentage of 56% is also very low.
Simply put, Gallup is not a very good player at this point in his career. A 2021 ACL tear in Week 17 perhaps has factored into this production decline, and I think he is very clearly a cut candidate for the Dallas Cowboys in 2024. The cap hit of nearly $14 million is not too high, but the production the team is getting from Gallup is something they could find with a rookie draft pick or a free agent that makes one-third of what Gallup does.