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Defending Miles Austin's (overall) worth

7fr00k2vDETROIT, Michigan - There is not so much rage over Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin not playing on Sunday against the Detroit Lions as there is humor. That bum hamstring won't cooperate. At this point, the joke is on the Dallas Cowboys. This is what injured players do, especially after a few years of playing football in the National Football League - they get hurt.

Teams do this all the time - make plans around the good health of players, despite their history of injury. See Ratliff, Jay. Thank God for rookie Terrance Williams, who has replaced Austin's production.

On the surface, Miles Austin is a bad deal. Overall, however, he was a steal the Cowboys mis-timed (they do this a lot - see Barber, Marion). 

Check this out:

The Cowboys signed the undrafted Miles Austin out of Monmouth College for a signing bonus of $16,400.
He was listed as a kick returner. In 14 games, he returned 29 kicks for 753 yards with no receptions.
Austin returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the playoff loss at Seattle.
Bottom line: $275,000

In 16 games, he returned 24 kicks for 612 yards.
5 receptions for 76 yards
Bottom line: $360,000

In 12 games, he returned 29 kicks for 624 yards. He caught 13 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns.
Bottom line: $445,000

He appeared in 16 games and started nine. He caught 81 passes for 1,320 yards with 11 touchdowns.
He returned seven kicks for 157 yards.
Against the Eagles in the NFC divisional round, he caught seven passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. The next week in a playoff loss at Minnesota, he caught four passes for 34 yards.
Bottom line: $1.54 million

At this point, Austin is 25 and looks like a monster steal. Just based on his production in 2009, the Cowboys have a bargain/steal buy. 

In early September, the Cowboys handed Austin a six-year extension worth $54 million; it included a bonus of $18 million. The deal did not kick in until 2011.

Started 16 games. Caught 69 passes for 1,041 yards with seven touchdowns. He also had seven carries for 93 yards and one touchdonw.
Bottom line: $3.168 million

Started 10 games. Caught 43 passes for 579 yards with seven touchdowns.
Bottom line: $685,000

After this season, the Cowboys re-structured Austin's deal for salary cap relief.

Started 15 games, appeared in 16. Caught 66 passes for 943 yards with six touchdowns.
Bottom line: $1.15 million

Has appeared in five games. Has 15 receptions for 125 yards and no touchdowns.
Bottom line: $840,000


In eight seasons, Austin has played in 100 games with 50 starts. He has 292 receptions for 4,362 yards and 34 touchdowns. He has one kick return for a TD in a playoff game.
He was in the Pro Bowl in 2009 and 2010.

The total guaranteed money Austin will have received - after he is released in the offseason - is about $26 million dollars (which is not tax free). 

The "cap hit" and the "dead money" from 2014 to 2016 on this contract aren't ideal, but the Cowboys will save about $15 million when Austin is released.

He will be 30 next June, and some team will give him a look because he will - at that point - be cheap and there is proven ability. 

The problem for the Cowboys is not that they gave him the contract, it's that he earned it at the wrong time. He got paid. Then he got hurt.

But he did get a Kardasian.

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