FRISCO, Texas – For Tavon Austin, joining the Cowboys is an "honor."
"That's the main team that's always on TV," the veteran receiver said Saturday after learning that the L.A. Rams traded him to Dallas for a sixth-round pick. "The greats always played there."
It's also a fresh start.
Austin, a first-round pick by the Rams in 2013, had his most challenging season as a pro last year. He said he dealt with a wrist injury that required surgery and then hurt his hamstring early in camp. His production suffered with a career-low 13 catches for 47 yards.
The injuries, combined with the media scrutiny out west, felt like "rock bottom."
"But I'm in a better place now," he said. "I'm not even worried about what happened in the past."
After being traded Saturday, Austin had a phone conversation with Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones.
"It was a lot of weight off my shoulders," Austin said, knowing he'll have a chance to compete for a spot on offense.
The Cowboys have seemed heavy at receiver even after releasing Dez Bryant earlier this month. They've drafted two wideouts (Colorado State's Michael Gallup and Boise State's Cedrick Wilson) this week and signed two veterans (Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson) in March.
But later Saturday, the club continued to shuffle things by trading last year's fourth-round pick Ryan Switzer to the Oakland Raiders for defensive tackle Jihad Ward. Austin's return experience (183 career returns, 3 touchdowns) made that decision easier.
On offense, Austin has a unique skill set that might help him find a role as a change-of-pace option running and receiving. Although he's been listed as a receiver, he has 184 career carries (9 rushing touchdowns) working from the backfield.
"We intend to use him just as we used (Lance) Dunbar in the past," said Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones, referencing the team's former backup running back/returner. "We feel like with Zeke (Elliott) and Rod (Smith), that they fill their role and Tavon can really do some special things for us in addition to being a nice threat in the return game, to say the least."
How does Austin view his ideal role?
"I just want the ball in my hands, to be honest, in some space," he said. "That's the main thing for me. Just get the ball to me in space and just let me go."