Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys add to post-Dez Bryant committee approach with trade for Tavon Austin

The Dallas Cowboys acquired Los Angeles Rams receiver Tavon Austin in a trade during the fifth round of the NFL Draft Saturday.
The Dallas Cowboys acquired Los Angeles Rams receiver Tavon Austin in a trade during the fifth round of the NFL Draft Saturday. The Associated Press

The Dallas Cowboys’ receiver by committee approach to replace the departed Dez Bryant added another member on Saturday when the team traded a sixth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft for receiver Tavon Austin.

Austin joins third-round pick Michael Gallup as the new additions to receiver corps during the draft.

The Dallas Cowboys added Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson in free agency to with holdovers Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Ryan Switzer and Noah Brown.

This was after the Cowboys tried to sign Sammy Watkins early in free agency, well before they made the final decision to move on from Bryant.

Owner Jerry Jones alluded to another possible move at receiver Friday night.

“We have been evolving in the off-season, and that’s when you want to do that rather than during the season, to be trite,” Jones said. “We’ve had the luxury, and have had the time, and it’s pretty well known that we had a little interest in one of the free agent receivers very early in free agency. So if you look at your timelines, and look what’s documented with what you have, you’ll see that we’ve been just kind of letting this thing evolve and play out.

"I’m not so sure it’s over with yet in terms of what our options are to put the best receiver corps on the field for us when we open up opening day. So I don’t want to sit here and preclude or close any door of adding any way to hope our receiver corps or help our offense.”

Austin was surprised about the trade but happy it was to the Cowboys.

“I didn’t see this coming at all. That’s the business side of it,’ Austin said. “It was a lot of weight off my shoulder (owner Jerry Jones called). That’s the star. The team everyone looks at, the one that’s always on TV. The greats have played there, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith.”

The 5-foot-8, 180-pound Austin brings much needed speed to the Cowboys attack, but he has been an enigma so far in the NFL after being selected eighth overall out of West Virginia in 2013. He was supposed to be an x-factor in the Rams offense, but never found a consistent role.

He had just 13 catches for 47 yards and 59 rushes for 270 yards in 2017. He has a total of 1,689 yards on 194 catches over five NFL seasons.

Austin blamed his struggles in 2017 on injuries. He suffered a fractured wrist in mini camp that required reconstructive surgery. He then missed all but three days into training camp because of a torn hamstring.

The Rams started winning and Austin had no role in the offense.

He said he hit rock bottom mentally when people started questioning his abilities without knowing about his injuries, especially the fractured wrist that bothered him all season. He still not yet 100 percent recovered but promises to be before the start of the season.

"I am not going to throw anybody under the bus," Austin said. "I am a better man today. I am a way better man than I was last year. It showed me a lot. It showed me the type of man I am and the character I have. I am in a better place. A lot of weight is off my shoulder."

It’s a one-year make-good situation for Austin and the Cowboys, who only risked a sixth-round pick.

The investment for the Cowboys is minimal.

Austin had his contract reduced to one-year in March when the Rams paid him a $4 million roster bonus.

The Cowboys are only responsible for a $1 million base salary that includes up to $3 million incentives.

He will most likely serve as receiver/slash running back for the Cowboys as they try to get his speed in space out the backfield and on jet sweeps as a change of pace to the power running of Ezekiel Elliott.

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