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Eatman: Cowboys Need Austin More Than People Think

Posted Oct 15, 2013


It’s a kneejerk-reaction world we live in.

It always seems like whatever happens in each game instantly becomes the overall view of reality.

Terrance Williams fumbles this week – he’s a rookie who’s lost and the word “bust” is being tossed around. He comes back with a strong game against Denver, coupled with a touchdown catch against Washington, and now he’s a third-round steal who is only getting better.

Obviously, Williams is somewhere in between and likely will stay there for a while.

And now that Cole Beasley is starting to become a viable receiving threat, especially on third downs, the Cowboys have a couple of guys who can make them simply forget about Miles Austin altogether, right?

No, not right. Not at all.

Hey, I’ve been as critical toward Miles Austin as the next guy, maybe even more. I think there are plays where he doesn’t fight for the ball – case in point Sunday night against the Redskins when he had a step on DeAngelo Hall, but didn’t come back to catch it at its highest point. He let Hall get a hand on it without a fight. And Austin has done that in the past, letting two deep balls against the Giants and Redskins turn into interceptions.

When we see a cornerback drop an interception we always say, “yeah, that’s why you’re on defense.”

Well, I’ve always said Miles probably couldn’t play defense because he rarely knocks the ball down.

But all that being said, Austin is still a good football player who can, and will, help this team this year.

And it’s not about money. The Cowboys could realistically trade Austin right now and it wouldn’t affect the cap much at all. In fact, all of the signing-bonus proration would roll into next year. And considering the fact his $5.5 million base salary for next season would be off the books, the Cowboys could potentially save some money on the cap next year.

And just to reiterate because it seems like this part is confusing to some fans who don’t understand all the details of the salary cap – even if a player is traded to another team, his new team accepts the contract with the base salaries, but the prorated signing bonus sticks with the original team and comes to the forefront.

So it’s not a money issue, but a need issue.

Sure, if someone offered you a good draft pick, you’d listen. You might even pull the trigger.

But regardless of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten’s role in the offense, and regardless of Williams and Beasley now coming on strong with occasional nice plays on offense from Harris, this team will need Austin at some point this year. It wasn’t really Sunday night against the Redskins. It might not be this week in Philly, although considering they’ll likely need to score about 30 points to win, it’d be a nice time to start.

But Austin isn’t done. In fact, it was just a few months ago he was having a great training camp – one of his best in years. He can still get open, especially in the slot and underneath. And if Williams continues to provide a deep threat, it’ll only open up things for Austin.

One minute you think you’ve got a surplus at one position and it can change quickly. Look at defensive end. The Cowboys thought they’d have Anthony Spencer, Tyrone Crawford, Ben Bass and DeMarcus Ware at this point in the season. And in a game for the NFC East lead, they’ll roll out George Selvie, Kyle Wilber, Caesar Rayford and Jarius Wynn, with the possibility of Edgar Jones. That’s five guys who weren’t with the team when training camp started.

For everyone who thinks Austin would be a good fit in Atlanta or Green Bay or any other spot where receivers are getting banged up, just remember how things can change in a hurry around here.

It’s not like Bryant hasn’t had an injury or two in his career. I think the expectations for Austin have certainly been decreased, and they should be, but I would hold off in trying to dump this guy because you think he’s dispensable.

Call it a hunch, but I think he helps this team down the stretch a lot more than people think.

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