NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 19: Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys is seen on the field alongside Miles Austin #19 prior to the start of the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on December 19, 2009 in New Oleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
As is the case with many players, Miles Austin is losing out to the uncapped season.
Basically, his breakout year couldn't have come at a worse time in terms of parlaying it into a hefty--or, perhaps, reasonable contract. Were there a salary cap in place, Austin would be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and, therefore, primed to cash in big; since there is not--as, in uncapped years, minimum league-service for unrestricted free agency goes from four to six years--he is pushed into the conspicuously bloated pool of restricted free agents this summer, with little leverage to work.
Of course, Jerry Jones has been adamant in stating his intention to lock Austin up with a long-term deal, but this is exceedingly difficult in the current labor climate. What's left, then, is a tender offer that will pay Austin $3.168 million in 2010 and almost guarantee his presence in Dallas next season.
Suffice it to say, Austin's camp isn't happy with these numbers--particularly, one would imagine, when held up to those of Roy Williams. As such, Austin is a conspicuous no-show at Valley Ranch currently, as the team embarks on the third week of their offseason conditioning program, opting instead to work out with a personal trainer in Los Angeles.
This may mean, as was pointed out by ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio, that he will sit out until June 15, when his tender offer could be reduced by over $1 million. Aside from that, though, there's little to be done for Austin. He may still sign an offer sheet, technically, but that proverbial window is closing on Thursday.
Tony Romo, for one, isn't worried about his buddy's absence.
"Miles will be back, don't worry, he'll be back and around," Romo told ESPN Radio. "He's just getting things done, the business side of things that happens once and while. But I talked to Miles the other day, he'll be on a bike. He's a good kid, he's going to work hard and he'll be ready to go when the time comes.
"He does a lot of good things, and he knows what it takes to play at a high level, year in and year out."