INDIANAPOLIS -- The Dallas Cowboys had until Thursday to place a franchise tag on wide receiver Miles Austin but that obviously didn't happen. Executive vice president Stephen Jones recently said the Cowboys would not go that route, which would've earned Austin somewhere in the neighborhood of $9 million in 2010. And with Austin becoming a restricted free agent next week, there was really no reason for the Cowboys to use the tag.
AustinDallas will likely offer Austin the highest tender ($3.168 million) in April, although Jones didn't want to reveal his strategy while talking to reporters on his family's luxury bus Thursday afternoon.
"I'm optimistic, but I can't talk timing," Stephen Jones said Thursday about signing Austin to a long-term deal. "This is a different environment right now. We don't know what kind of system we're going to be in other than we're going into an uncapped year. It's challenging. You never say never, but you just have no idea right now."
What Jones didn't say is that he and his father are worried about the potential of a 2011 lockout. That's on all the owners' minds right now, which makes it difficult to structure contracts. But if Austin gets off to a fast start in 2010, I'd be very surprised if the Cowboys let him play the entire season without a contract extension. I've been texting Austin on a weekly basis, so I'll let you know when he starts to worry. He's not even close to worrying at this point.