Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said he primarily views Austin as a receiver, Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News reports. "We'll use [Austin] for a lot of things, but he's a receiver first." said Linehan. "He's really in a lot of ways, some of his skill set is as an outside receiver, which is really unique, but he can move around, the slot." Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones both suggested Austin would get most of his playing time as a running back, but Linehan seems to have a slightly different vision. The 2013 first-round pick filled a variety of roles during his time with the Rams, serving as an outside receiver, slot receiver, passing-down back, punt returner and kick returner. He never truly thrived outside of the return game, and things even fell apart on that front last season when he struggled with ball security. Austin's best trick was his proficiency on jet sweeps, which helped atone for his lackluster receiving efforts as a slot man. Jerry Jones mentioned finding "a dozen or two dozen" touches per game for Austin, but something in the range of 5-to-10 (including special teams) would make a lot more sense. Austin had a personal best of 141 touches (8.8 per game) in 2015, tallying 52 catches, 52 carries, 34 punt returns and three kickoff returns.
Austin will be used as a "web back" in Dallas, a role similar to the one Lance Dunbar previously held with the team, Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. While Jerry Jones, with his usual panache, suggested that Austin could see "a dozen to 20 times, two dozen" touches a game, the 28-year-old is likely to have a much smaller workload in 2018 playing behind Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield and Cole Beasley in the slot. If Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is able to create some mismatches with Austin, however, the 28-year-old could rebound from last season's disappointing total of 317 yards from scrimmage in 16 games. It's worth noting that Linehan did help Reggie Bush to his last productive season in 2013 with the Lions.
The Rams have traded Austin to the Cowboys for a sixth-round draft pick, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. Austin, a 2013 first-rounder, will look to rejuvenate his career in Dallas. The 28-year-old spent his first five seasons with the Rams, but is coming off his least productive one. He tallied just 47 receiving yards on 13 receptions, while also providing 270 yards and a touchdown through the ground on a career high 59 carries. Dallas figures to be an advantageous situation for him, as nothing is set in stone with the receiving depth chart at this point. He will presumably battle with Cole Beasley for reps in the slot, while also potentially seeing some rushing and return opportunities.
Austin restructured his contract and will remain with the Rams, Gary Klein of The Los Angeles Times reports. It was rumored that Austin would either seek a trade or release at the beginning of the new league year, but the 2013 first-rounder will remain in Los Angeles for at least the immediate future on what amounts to a prove-it deal. The 28-year-old saw a major drop in pass-catching production in Sean McVay's offense last season, recording 13 receptions for 47 yards. However, Austin did see a career-high 59 rushing attempts for 270 yards and one score. Looking ahead, the free agent departure of Sammy Watkins could open up some possibilities for Austin to emerge as as a vertical threat for the Rams, and at a minimum he should see more volume in 2018.
The Rams will either trade or release Austin before the start of the league year, a source has told Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. Austin has come nowhere near his No. 8 overall status from 2013, never posting more than 509 receiving yards in five NFL seasons while typically being used more as a gadget-play guy or big-play specialist. Although the Rams finally put together an exciting offense in 2017, Austin was even less a focal point, totaling an ugly 47 receiving yards to go with 270 rushing yards while suiting up in all 16 games. It appears his time with the Rams may be done.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|2||09/17||New York Giants||25||20.75|
|13||11/30||New Orleans Saints||20||20.00|
|16||12/23||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||31||23.75|
|17||12/30||@New York Giants||25||20.75|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||46||288||2||41||343||3||88|