There will be no franchise tag and possibly no long-term deal for breakout receiver Miles Austin, according to Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones.
While keeping Austin in Dallas is one of the team's top priorities of the off season, Jones shot down any thoughts of the Cowboys putting the franchise tag on the restricted free agent to help ensure he remains with the Cowboys.
A franchise tag would cost the Cowboys a $9.521 million salary for next year and require two first round picks as compensation if another team signed him to a long deal. However, Jones said there no reason to do that when the highest restricted free agent tender of $3.168 million with a first- and third-round draft pick compensation will do.
"We don't need to use the franchise tag," Jones said. "How many times have seen another team give up a one and a three?"
The strategy seems tenuous considering Austin's sensational season and the number of teams, including the Miami Dolphins and former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, looking for a No. 1 receiver.
But the Cowboys have the right to match any offer and Jones reiterated as owner Jerry Jones did on the radio on Tuesday that they don't plan on letting Austin go anywhere.
"We're just not going to have Miles Austin any place but with the Dallas Cowboys," owner Jerry Jones said on 103.3 FM ESPN radio.
Jerry Jones has said on a number of occasions since the end of the season that he would like to sign Austin to a long-term deal. Stephen Jones wants the same thing. However, he expressed doubts about that being a realistic possibility in the current labor labor situation.
With no collective bargaining agreement in place between the owners and players, 2010 will be an uncapped year.
Stephen Jones said problem is that they don't know what the longterm ramifications are regarding the salary cap. He expects a deal to be in place at some point. But as of now its hard to make a long-term offer to Austin or anyone else not knowing what the future is going to be, Jones said.
"It's very difficult for us to make an offer when we don't know what the system is going to be," Jones said. I'm not saying that it won't happen, but it may be difficult. We want to win next year but we want to win the future."
Clarence E. Hill Jr.