Though I think this was as much Adam thinking it makes sense versus an actual rumor it would certainly make sense for it to happen:
Most interesting potential salary-cap casualty in coming days: Cowboys WR Miles Austin. Dallas needs cap space and Austin would provide it.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 23, 2013
Dallas signed Miles Austin to a terrible contract worth $54.1 million dollars back in 2010 with just over $17 million in guarantees off of one season of high level play where his receiving yards spiked to 1320 received yards. Austin never has come close to approaching those numbers again and it is really no surprise. Part of the reason Dallas signed Austin to this contract was due to the uncapped year in which they thought they could outsmart the system by dumping $17.078 million dollars into the 2010 season. That would eliminate all of the guarantees in the contract and give Dallas the chance to cut him free and clear in the future.
But once the cap returned in 2011 and Dallas found themselves in a pinch they converted base salary into a signing bonus and thus added dead money into Austin’s contract. The Cowboys were then handed a large cap penalty for their treatment of this contract by the NFL which they are still paying of this season. Dallas had never given a contractual structure to a player before like they had given to Austin and clearly were using the uncapped season in a manner not normal for their team. The fact that they turned around and converted salary into a prorated bonus the following year was just more evidence pointing to the Cowboys though process as it pertained to this contract.
Due to the decision to prorate his money, cutting Austin will now cost the Cowboys $4.713 million in dead money. This represents $3.59 million in cap savings over his current cap number, the largest savings on the team. Dallas is currently well over the salary cap with little room to maneuver. They are one of the most poorly run franchises in the NFL in terms of cap management often overpaying players to become Cowboys and leaving them little leverage to renegotiate deals downwards for cap relief. The Austin deal looks even worse when you consider that they had invested so much into Roy Williams in 2008, an epic failure at the same position, and learned nothing from that situation. Slowly but surely the Cowboys are turning into the Oakland Raiders of the last decade when it comes to cap management.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.