By Matthew Postins
The inevitable became official on Wednesday as the Dallas Cowboys released wide receiver Miles Austin as a post-June 1 roster designee.
By releasing Austin and designating him as a post-June 1 roster cut, the Cowboys can mitigate the cap acceleration releasing him will trigger. The Cowboys can now spread that cap hit over the 2014 and 2015 seasons at a rate of $5.5 million per year.
But the Cowboys will not get Austin’s $5.5 million back for 2014 until June 1, so it’s expected the Cowboys will use the money to sign their 2014 draft picks. So it will be no help to them during free agency.
Austin’s release had been expected since almost immediately after the Cowboys’ 2013 season ended. Austin signed a seven-year, $54 million deal after the 2009 season, a year in which Austin emerged as the Cowboys’ No. 1 receiving option. However, his contract, written during the NFL’s uncapped year in 2010, helped get the Cowboys in trouble with the NFL and led to a $10 million cap penalty spread out over the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Austin also became a liability, thanks to hamstring injuries and his huge cap figure, as Austin had four years remaining on his contract. Still, up until last season he was relatively productive. In 2009 Austin finished with 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns on 81 catches, a season that included his franchise-record 250-yard receiving game against Kansas City.
In 2010 and 2012 Austin caught at least 66 passes and at least 6 touchdowns, including a Pro Bowl season in 2011. But in 2013 the wheels came off, as Austin missed five games with hamstring issues and lost his starting position to rookie Terrence Williams. Austin ended up with the worst season of his career since cracking the starting lineup, catching just 24 passes for 244 yards and no touchdowns. It also represented the second time in the last three seasons in which Austin missed at least five games due to injury.
Austin can now shop his services to any team.