The Dallas Cowboys usually find it difficult to sever ties with aging, expensive veterans, but Miles Austin, with the production he’s giving them and the money he’s making, doesn’t make sense to keep anymore.
The 8-year veteran (29) missed five games last season and by the end of it wasn’t the number 2 receiver anymore. He finished with 24 receptions for 244 yards and 0 touchdowns, his worst season since 2008, when he was mostly used as a kick returner. His injury took away a lot of his explosiveness, while Tony Romo usually looked to Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams as more legitimate targets.
If Austin would have been a cheap player, it would make sense to keep him on, but with a $5.5 million salary coming his way and the Cowboys being very limited in what they can do under the salary cap, cutting him makes more sense than anything else. According to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, designating Austin a post-June 1 cut would make the most sense. Cutting the receiver before then would save just $400,000.
The Cowboys don’t have the cap space to sign a big name in free agency, which means they’ll either expect Cole Beasley to become a bigger part of the offense (which isn’t likely), target a low-priced veteran for a short term deal in free agency or go with a wide receiver in the draft, although they probably have bigger needs early on (All over the defense, offensive line) to address.
The Cowboys had the chance to save a lot of money by letting go of Austin last season, but preferred sticking to him, expecting his 2012 season to be something he can repeat. The same thing happened with Jay Ratliff who was eventually released to sign with the Chicago Bears. Jerry Jones doesn’t seem to be worrying to much about money, but it has put the Cowboys in a bad position in terms of competitiveness for quality players.