NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 19: Miles Austin #19 of the Dallas Cowboys avoids a tackle by Darren Sharper #42 of the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on December 19, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Miles Austin played this season like a bona fide No. 1 receiver, and, in doing so, earned himself a trip to Miami for the Pro Bowl. Now, many fans are wondering if his paycheck will begin to more accurately reflect his now-proven ability.
But as Todd Archer at the Dallas Morning News writes this morning, leverage remains on the side of the Cowboys. Without a new collective bargaining agreement, Austin would remain a restricted free agent this off-season and next, until the end of the 2011 season.
Last season, the team gave Austin a second-round tender; it's safe to say now, Austin will command a bit more than that. As of now, the team could give him the first round tender ($2.4 million) or the first- and third-round ($3.1 million). It's doubtful they could get away with giving anything less.
But Dallas may not want to get into all that with Austin, without whom, it's kind of doubtful (from where we're standing anyway) Dallas would have even made the playoffs. The team has a long history of even-handedness when it comes to this sort of matter, and it seems unlikely that this would change in Austin's case.
Owner Jerry Jones recently said, in not so many words, that he wanted to work out a long-term deal.
"That's all I'm going to say, but the answer is yes," Jones said.