The seven-year veteran has been often injured throughout his career, and now many are starting to question what exactly the Cowboys will do with Austin.
The toughness of NFL players is legendary. They have played with broken fingers, broken hands and concussions. Emmitt Smith played with a separated shoulder and Tony Romo with cracked ribs. Injuries are the nature of the beast, and many players typically have to endure at least one or two during their NFL careers.
Wide receiver Miles Austin is one of those players. Hamstring issues have plagued the 29 year old veteran his entire career. Out of a possible 112 games, Austin has played in 97. Reoccurring hamstring issues caused him to sit out for 15 games, and it has the Cowboys team and their fans frustrated.
Austin began the 2013 year on a healthy note, but then suffered a hamstring injury on September 22nd in a game versus the St. Louis Rams. As a wide receiver, Austin does quite a bit of sprinting, cutting, and a ton of just plain running. All that aside, it took him five full games to heal. Austin returned to the field and caught one pass for 17 yards against the New York Giants, on November 24th.
|Scott Mecum via Wikimedia Commons|
Austin had a total of 24 receptions for 244 yards and zero touchdowns in 11 games in 2013. In fact, he hasn't crossed the goal line since December of 2012. In his seven years as a Cowboy, Austin has accounted for a career 301 receptions for 4,481 yards and 34 touchdowns.
With the emergence of rookie receiver Terrance Williams, and with all-star Dez Bryant on the opposite side, Austin's job is definitely in jeopardy. Austin is on the books next season for $8.24 million. That’s lead-receiver money for a player who is no longer a lead receiver.
Releasing Austin would free up $5.5 million towards the salary cap, but the Cowboys can't release him to get a post-June 1st designation until the new football year begins, which is March 11th. Which means the money saved by releasing Austin would not be in the Cowboys hands until June.
Once upon a time the Cowboys believed Austin to be indispensable. They awarded him a six-year, $54 million contract in 2010 to serve as Romo’s go-to guy in one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses. Re-structuring his contract is another option, and Austin may agree to a lower paycheck. He will be turning 30 years old this year, and free agency might not be too kind to a six-foot-two, 216 pound wide receiver with a history of injuries.
Football is a violent sport. Muscles strain, ankles sprain and bones break. Players play with varying degrees of pain each week. They often choose to stay on the field regardless of any injury. Austin chose to sit out.
If you leave the field, you leave your post. A talented player will step in, and you may not have a job when you come back. Austin has left his post. Many times. This time may be for good.
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