(Editor's Note: This is the fifth of an 11-part series analyzing every position on the Cowboys roster, providing a quick look back before addressing the needs of each spot on the field and how it can be improved heading into the 2014 season. Today we examine the wide receivers).
Pressing Matters: It’s all about the money at this position. On the same roster, the Cowboys possess one of the NFL’s most grossly overpaid wide receivers, as well as one of its most underpaid.
Austin is set to make $5.5 million and hit the salary cap for $8.2 million this year. Clearly the stats and the cost don’t add up. What the Cowboys decide to do with Austin – whether they ask him to take a pay cut, or cut him altogether – is one of the main storylines to watch this offseason.
On the other side of the spectrum,
The team signed
Both players’ longterm futures with the Cowboys are sure to be a factor going forward.
2013 Evaluation: Bryant and Austin’s numbers quite simply speak for themselves. Bryant is averaging 92.5 catches, 1,300 yards and 12.5 touchdowns over the last two seasons.
Conversely, Austin finished the 2013 season with a mere 24 catches for 244 yards and not a single touchdown – and that was after a 10-catch, 72-yard outing in the season opener. It was his worst season since 2007, when he caught just five passes as a reserve player.
Williams bounced back in a big way just a week later with a 82-yard touchdown catch in a 151-yard effort against Denver. He also had big outings against Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington. The rookie emerged as a viable No. 2 receiver behind Bryant, totaling44 catches for 736 yards and five touchdowns.
Beasley made two huge plays to help the Cowboys to division wins – a third down catch in the game-winning drive in Week 10 against New York, and his fourth down catch to help spark the Cowboys’ Week 16 comeback against Washington.
Depending on what happens with Austin this year, the Cowboys are either looking at four or five receivers on the active roster right now. Obviously, the team will bring a bevy of receivers to training camp. The Cowboys may even spend a draft pick on a young receiver, if the right situation arises.
It looks obvious at this point that the No. 1 and No. 2 options going forward will be Bryant and Williams. Beasley will continue to work along with them in his role as a slot and short yardage receiver. What the Cowboys do with Austin, and the possibility of adding young depth, is still a question mark.
By The Numbers:
- Bryant scored a touchdown 13 times on 93 catches, which is to say he scored 14 percent of the time he caught the ball.
- Only the Cowboys’ original five receivers – Bryant, Williams, Austin, Beasley and Harris – caught passes from
Tony Romothis season.
- Williams led all Dallas receivers with an average of 16.7 yards per reception.
- The Cowboys currently have three additional receivers –
Tim Benford, Lanear Sampsonand Jamar Newsome– on their practice squad.
- With 49 on the season, Austin was targeted six fewer times than Beasley. He was targeted 111 fewer times than Bryant.
Bryan Broaddus on the Cowboys’ wide receivers:
Other than the offensive line, there might not have been a position that had bigger growth from one season to another than these wide receivers. I was not sure how these players would respond to Derek Dooley and how his approach would potentially be different from that of Jimmy Robinson but the transition was smooth and in several areas, much better… (Read more here)