Cowboys get Rams WR Tavon Austin for sixth-round pick

Cowboys get Rams WR Tavon Austin for sixth-round pick

FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys continue to remake their wide receiver group by trading for Tavon Austin and sending one of their two sixth-round picks, No. 192 overall, to the Los Angeles Rams.

29 Nisan 2018 - 02:00

FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys continue to remake their wide receiver group by trading for Tavon Austin and sending one of their two sixth-round picks, No. 192 overall, to the Los Angeles Rams.

Austin was the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft but had just 13 catches for 47 yards and no touchdowns in 2017. He made a bigger impact in the running game with 59 carries for 270 yards and a touchdown. For his career, he has 194 catches for 1,689 yards and 184 carries for 1,238 yards. He has touchdowns through the air (12), ground (nine) and as a returner (three).

On Friday, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones hinted at adding another receiver after selecting Michael Gallup in the third round. Before releasing Dez Bryant, the franchise leader in touchdown catches, the Cowboys added Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson in free agency.

The Cowboys have Terrance Williams, who is recovering from foot surgery, Cole Beasley, Noah Brown and Ryan Switzer, who caught passes for them in 2017 returning to the roster.

"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," Jones said Friday. "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's role could be similar to what he had with the Rams as a space player. The Cowboys were interested in North Carolina State running back Nyheim Hines and Southern Miss running back Ito Smith in similar roles, but they were selected before the Cowboys picked in the fourth round. The Cowboys also recently worked out running back Lance Dunbar, who was with the Rams last season after a four-year run with the Cowboys.

The Cowboys wanted to add speed to their offense in 2018 and nearly signed Sammy Watkins at the start of free agency, but he opted to join the Kansas City Chiefs on a three-year, $16 million contract.

Austin gives the Cowboys another option to spread the field, while still maintaining Ezekiel Elliott as the focal part of their offense.

He also plays into the Cowboys' desire to have a wide receiver by committee approach after parting ways with Bryant. For years, Bryant was the focal point of the passing game. Before that, the Cowboys had Terrell Owens in a similar role.

"I think that you can estimate that there are 10 No. 1 receivers in this league and 22 others get it done in another way," executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "I think Jerry said it a week ago, we have come to grips that we are not going to have a quote, un-quote, No. 1 wide receiver; a la Julio [Jones], a la A.J. Green, a la Antonio Brown. We're just not going to get it done that way."

Austin is one of the fastest players in the league, but measures only five-foot-eight and was never able to find a clear fit in the Rams' receiving corps. He was used mostly as a punt returner and gadget receiver under former head coach Jeff Fisher during his first four seasons. Under Sean McVay the last two years, his role has been diminished significantly by the subsequent acquisition of vertical receivers.

The Rams went into last season hoping that Austin could establish himself as a vertical threat in McVay's offense, but that all changed when the team acquired Sammy Watkins from the Buffalo Bills late in the summer. Early in that season, Austin lost his job as a punt returner to Pharoh Cooper, who went on to make the Pro Bowl. The Rams ultimately used him as a decoy in their backfield to help Todd Gurley find holes, but that role diminished, as well.

The Rams had signed Austin to a four-year, $42 million extension in August of 2016, a deal that didn't offer any guaranteed money after the 2018 season, and he entered 2018 without a role. After Watkins joined the Chiefs as a free agent, the Rams surprisingly restructured Austin's contract, turning it into a one-year, $5 million deal with another $3 million available through incentives. But then the Rams traded for former New England Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks, once again lessening Austin's role on the team.

Trading Austin to the Cowboys will save the Rams $1 million in salary cap space, which the Rams could use to sign draft picks and add depth.

ESPN's Alden Gonzalez contributed to this report.



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