OXNARD, Calif. -- Anything that Jerry Jones says about Miles Austin can be used against him in contract negotiations.
Jerry doesn’t care. He can’t keep himself from gushing about the receiver who is seeking a long-term deal after his breakout Pro Bowl campaign.
A lot of folks were stunned by Austin’s ascent to the top of the NFC receiving yardage list last season. After all, this was a guy with a grand total of 18 receptions in his first three NFL seasons. But the owner/general manager firmly believed Austin was a budding star even before his record-setting coming-out party in Kansas City.
“First of all, we saw enough that he was the principal reason that I was able to move on from T.O.,” Jones said. “I was very clear about that. It wasn’t chemistry. It was you had somebody big and fast that had really shown us that we thought he could do it. He was a little slow there, a little nicked up there in training camp, but then of course he had the year that he had. You’ve got a progression.”
That isn’t revisionist history.
Jones did in fact declare at the spring 2009 owners’ meetings that he thought Austin could fill T.O.’s shoes. There are probably some tapes to prove it, although it might be hard to hear over reporters snickering.
Now Jones sees a Pro Bowl receiver who is just hitting his prime and keeps getting better. There is not an ounce of doubt in Jones’ mind that Austin might be a one-year wonder.
“You’ve got, in our case, three or four years of evaluating Miles Austin,” Jones said. “The risk that you’re looking at someone who had one big year and never will have another one is really mitigated by the fact that we’ve had him that long. Now, if he came out here like a Dez Bryant and had an All-Pro year right off the bat, then you might ask yourself now because you’ve seen him [only] one year. But we’ve got a nice book on Miles Austin. That’s comforting.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean that a contract extension is close for Austin, who is playing on a one-year tender offer of $3.168 million. Both sides have made it clear that they intend to get a long-term deal done, but that process is complicated by the collective bargaining agreement uncertainty.
It’s likely that Austin will end up getting a deal in the Roy Williams territory of $9 million per year. The owner doesn’t discuss contract negotiations publicly, but Jones certainly sounds like a man willing to pay Austin elite receiver money.
“Sometimes you just put down the way it is,” Jones said. “But I am proud of how he’s getting better actually. That really makes you excited about, 'Can he get better?' He’s got the size and speed to do it.”