Austin would get $9.5M with franchise tag

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The business of the NFL took center stage today when NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said the union and the owners are far apart in contract talks.

When the owners opted out of the current CBA, it made the 2010 season an uncapped year -- if the two sides can't come to an agreement by March.

"On a scale of 1-to-10, it's a 14," Smith said regarding the seriousness of the issues.

And because the owners opted out of the deal, it made players such as Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin a restricted free agent instead of an unrestricted free agent.

The Cowboys have to do something with Austin. And if they franchise him, Austin's scheduled to make $9.5 million in 2010. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is on record as saying he wants to give him a long-term deal, but why would you after just one productive season?

The Cowboys have only one unrestricted free agent in guard/center Montrae Holland.

However, the Cowboys have 13 restricted free agents. Among them: Stephen Bowen, Cletis Gordon, Jason Hatcher, Sam Hurd, Pat McQuistan, Duke Preston, Cory Procter, Gerald Sensabaugh, Junior Siavii, Marcus Spears, Shaun Suisham, Pat Watkins and Austin.

Who do you bring back?

Austin, Bowen, Hatcher, Hurd, McQuistan, Procter, Sensabaugh, Siavii, Spears and Watkins would be my choices. Not sure about Holland or Preston -- I'm sure you can find an offensive lineman in the 2010 draft, and the team does have Travis Bright (practice squad) and Robert Brewster (reserve/PUP) coming back.