According to report from the Dallas Morning News, in addition to saying goodbye to DE Demarcus Ware, Dallas has also released wide receiver Miles Austin from his contract.
An eight-year veteran and another Cowboys undrafted free agent success story, Austin was scheduled to make $5.5 million in base salary for the 2014 season. That money will now be added to the Cowboys cap space for 2014.
The move will be designated as a June 1st cut, which serves two purposes. First and foremost, it allows a player that the team would normally not release until June 2nd, to hit the open market while the other 31 teams still have the majority of their cap space to spend. It also allows the releasing team to split the cap hit over the next two seasons.
The savings will not be available for the Cowboys to use until June 2nd.
When a player is released, the pro-rated signing and restructure bonuses "accelerate" into the current year. The June 1st rule allows a team to only eat the current year's proration, and the remaining years get pushed into next year's cap hit. For Dallas and Austin, the move means that Dallas will have $2.75m in "dead" money on this years cap (reducing his 2014 cap hit from $8.25 million to $2.75m), and will have $5.1 million (the remaining bonus proration) of dead money on next year's cap.
If Austin had remained on the club through the remainder of this deal, his cap hits would have been over $9.6m in 2015, $12.5m in 2016 and $10.1m in 2017. When Austin originally signed his six-year extension in 2010, it was built to be able to escape the deal in this manner prior to 2014.
The need for Austin's release is straight forward, he's simply been unable to stay on the field. Austin has suffered hamstring injuries over the course of the last three seasons, severely limiting his effectiveness on the field. He has never since approached the dynamic breakout season of 2009, when he and Tony Romo connected over and over again. That season, he hauled in 81 catches for over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns. Austin hasn't caught more than 7 touchdowns in a year since, and had 0 in 2013.
Not only did Dallas prepare itself for this day when they handed out that exorbitant deal; they also took his injury history into account and prepared for this on their roster. Last year, using an extra pick acquired in a draft-day trade with San Francisco, Dallas acquired Baylor standout Terrance Williams. Williams fit in very nicely with the Cowboys offense and kept the team from being "hamstrung" by Austin's repeated absences.
Dallas has now added over $13 million to their 2014 cap space (albeit staggered), which was a little over $1 million to start the day. How will they spend it? Whatever they choose, make sure you stay tuned to Blogging The Boys, as we'll have it covered.