Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Cowboys [Print without images]

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
What happened to Miles Austin?

By Calvin Watkins

The Dallas Cowboys' 2013 season ended in such a shocking fashion it left you numb.

One of the final moments of the season occurred when wide receiver Miles Austin failed to haul in a pass from quarterback Kyle Orton in the regular-season finale against Philadelphia. The pass was thrown behind Austin, but later, in a moment of reflection, Austin said he should have tried to fight for the ball.

Miles Austin
Miles Austin, a seven-year wide receiver who has only played with the Dallas Cowboys' organization, had his worst season since 2007.
What happened to Miles Austin?

Where was the man the Cowboys signed to a seven-year contract extension worth $57.1 million with $18 million guaranteed back in 2010? Austin finished the season with zero touchdown catches, which marks the first time that's happened since his rookie season. A starting wide receiver with zero touchdown catches. It seems amazing. (But not unheard of.)

He had just 24 catches for 244 yards. In 2012, Austin was an undervalued performer who picked up 943 receiving yards and six touchdowns. For all of Dez Bryant's greatness in 2012, there was this solid presence of Austin. He was a model of consistency.

It all ended because Austin's health was a constant problem. Coach Jason Garrett had to defend Austin's roster status with reporters because he was trying to return from hamstring problems.

The Cowboys tried all sorts of things with Austin: Extra stretching, don't run as much in practice, monitor his diet, monitor his movements on the field. Everything they tried failed.

One thing Garrett liked to say about Austin was he still acted like he was an undrafted free agent from Monmouth University.

He needed to act like the star receiver and help out a passing game relying on Bryant, Jason Witten and Terrance Williams. At some point, veteran receivers get replaced, it happens and it's part of life in the NFL.

Austin shouldn't be in that situation given his skill set. He's got speed, ability to break tackles and play multiple receiver positions, which makes him a valuable target for quarterback Tony Romo.

After such a disappointing 2013, it's probably time to send Austin home. Not trade him, but release him. The salary cap-tight Cowboys could use the money, not because they're trying to sign a high-priced free agent, but it's just time to get rid of his contract. If Austin is a post-June 1 cut, it saves the team nearly $5 million.

Austin's lack of production on the field warrants it's time to move on.