There is no denying that Miles Austin has given the Dallas Cowboys some big games, some big catches and scored some timely touchdowns. It is also evident that when they needed him most, he hasn’t been there for them. Austin burst onto the scene when Roy Williams wasn’t able to play that Sunday Afternoon in Kansas City back in 2009.
Not only that game but his season in 2009 would end up being a big year for Austin. After posting 278 yards receiving and 624 yards on kick returns the previous year, no one could have expected him to have 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns by seasons end. He impressed ownership enough that Jerry Jones signed Austin to a seven year and $54.1 million deal. The following season he posted another season of 1,041 yards and seven touchdowns. Since that time he hasn’t eclipsed 1,000 yards or seven touchdowns.
Here are the reasons why Austin shouldn’t return beyond 2013
Young quartet of receivers
The first player that should and usually does come to mind is Dez Bryant. Dez played like a man possessed in the final eight games of the season. Down the stretch he averaged six receptions, 110 yards and 1.25 touchdowns during that stretch. He constantly battles against double coverage and is still able to perform for this team. Through seven games so far he is averaging six receptions, 81 yards and just under a touchdown per game so far.
Terrance Williams is really showing that he is more than just a deep threat for Tony Romo and company. Thus far this season Williams has 24 receptions for 380 yards and three touchdowns, his third sealed the game against the Eagles. At this point he is projected to have 60 receptions for 950 yards and seven scores. This is almost virtually identical to the numbers that Miles Austin put up last season at almost a fifth the cost (4.86).
Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris aren’t exactly lighting up the stat sheet, but they make timely plays on the field. Beasley has been the Cowboys’ Wes Welker. He seems to be a match-up problem for any defender that lines up across him. While Beasley is making timely catches for the offense Harris is shredding the opposing special team’s coverage units.
Harris has a combined 501 yards on returns and one score. Last week against the Redskins, he had a punt return touchdown of 86 yards and a 90 yard return to set up another score. Dallas could utilize Harris a bit more in their empty sets, but they do have Escobar that could take those snaps.
Fans and media know all about the hamstring issues that Miles Austin deals with on a week to week basis. This past week he practiced on Wednesday but was held out of practice the rest of the week for precautionary reasons. Austin has already missed two games this season and five games in 2011. Not having him available for practice definitely hurts in the game planning aspect. Tony Romo seems to have more trust in Williams, Bryant, Witten or anyone else at this point. He rarely throws the ball Austin’s way even when he does make it on the field. Miles has been targeted 7 times in the last two games with no catches.
Austin has three years left on his current deal and he will cost the Cowboys over $30 million during that span. As reported by Adam Shefter, the Cowboys will be $31 million over the cap next season and it will be another offseason of trying to cut salaries. If you designate Austin as a June 1st cut they will save $5.5 million. Combine Williams, Beasley and Harris aren’t anywhere near that figure and Dallas will need to address other positions.
What all this really means is the end of one Mr. Miles Austin in Dallas. He is over-paid and is under performing based on his contract. Unless he is willing to take a massive pay cut, you can expect that Bryant, Williams, Beasley and Harris will be the receivers moving forward. With the end of Bryant’s rookie deal coming up, Dallas would be smart to put all of their eggs in his basket.