In 2010 Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin signed a new contract worth $57.1 million over seven years. At first glance, the contract seemed to be a bit steep, but Austin rewarded the Cowboys with his second consecutive 1,000 yard receiving season and it appeared the Cowboys were getting their money’s worth.
Last off-season, the Cowboys were docked $10 million in their salary cap because they supposedly violated a competitive balance agreement the league had in place. It was an agreement which the Cowboys didn’t agree or comply with, and in the end they paid for their transgression. It was Miles Austin’s contract that was the source of the disagreement when the Cowboys piled a ton of his money into the uncapped year rather than spreading his payments out over the length of the contract.
Fast forward to the here and now and ask yourself this: Is Miles Austin still worth the money the Cowboys have paid him? I only ask because the team will have to make some tough decisions over whom to keep in order to free up money this off-season. Austin is to make $6.7 million in 2013, a number that maybe too high for the Cowboys to pay.
Before making the decision to keep Austin or not there are a few things that need to be reviewed; one of them being that Austin is rarely healthy anymore. He routinely misses practice time and this season he was ineffective in a few match-ups with various ailments that didn’t allow him to play at 100%. Last season, Austin only played in 10 games and he hasn’t posted a 1,000 yard season in either of his past two years, so there are legitimate reasons for releasing the receiver.
However, what are the Cowboys alternatives? Dez Bryant has become the Cowboys’ number one receiver and Austin makes a very good number two, but after them, the receivers on the roster are a crap shoot. I love the potential of Dwayne Harris, but he seems more like a number three guy, and I like the ability of Cole Beasely in the slot, but neither guy is a sure thing. Austin brings a versatility to the Cowboys offense that no other receiver brings, which adds to his value.
There doesn’t appear to be a good enough reason to release Austin, but the Cowboys do need to look long and hard at restructuring his contract to free up cap space. This will allow the team to look for his replacement in the off-season and will also let the Cowboys to continue to groom players like Beasley and Harris, who are both ready for bigger roles in the offense.
The Cowboys have a lot of key decisions to make this off-season and whether or not to release Miles Austin is one of them. Right now, there is no need to cut Austin because the Cowboys don’t have the depth at wide receiver to compensate for his loss.
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