Now that Cole Beasley has taken his talents North after joining the Buffalo Bills this offseason, the Dallas Cowboys now have to find his replacement as not only a slot receiver, but as a punt returner as well. The latter could be the more difficult to replace and what I want to discuss today, particularly as it pertains to Tavon Austin.
The Dallas Cowboys acquired Tavon Austin via trade from the Los Angeles Rams before the start of the 2018 season with the hopes he could add some juice to both their offense and return game. Unfortunately, Austin sustained a pretty serious groin injury early in the year, causing him to miss the majority of the season.
When healthy though, Austin proved he still has what it takes to be a dynamic weapon on both offense and as a punt returner. Offensively, he was mostly used as a “gadget” player. His lack of size unfortunately prevents him from being more of a traditional receiver or running back, but it’s also one of the reasons why he excels in the return game.
Special teams will be Tavon Austin’s best bet to make the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster this season. However, with a deep roster from top to bottom, the Cowboys may not be able to carry such a “niche” player on the final 53 like they have in years past. Because of that, Dallas may need to look at other alternatives to field punts in 2019.
With Cole Beasley gone, the Cowboys don’t really have a lot of options currently on the roster as a fallback plan. The only two players who really have any experience are WRs Lance Lenoir, who is highly unlikely to make the final cuts, and Randall Cobb, who is a 29-year-old veteran already replacing Beasley in the slot. That’s about it!
As of right now, this is really good for Tavon Austin, but not so much the Dallas Cowboys. This gives him a really good chance to make the roster, but sadly he will always be susceptible to injuries because of his lack of size. This is something the Cowboys have to seriously consider when it’s time to make roster cuts to get under the league mandated 53-man limit.
Each and every roster spot is going to be more valuable this year than it has in years past. Luckily, Tavon Austin can contribute as a runner and receiver on offense, which adds to his value. If not for that, his special teams ability might not have been enough to stick around this season.
There is still a lot that can happen between now and the season. But, as things stand right now it looks as if Tavon Austin will be the Dallas Cowboys main punt returner in 2019. If I were the Cowboys though, I’d do my best to find an adequate backup just in case. After all, who would take over that responsibility if Austin got hurt once again?