Cowboys trade for former first-round bust Tavon Austin, plan to use him in surprising way

It might be the last day of the 2018 NFL Draft but there's a first-round pick on the move, with the Rams shipping Tavon Austin to Dallas. The No. 8 overall pick was swapped for a sixth-round pick that was sent back to the Rams, who now have an absurd seven sixth-round selections. 

Austin's a curious case. He was drafted by Jeff Fisher and Les Snead and supposed to be part of a modern football revolution; Austin's speed and ability in space, coupled with his rushing skills were supposed to spread out defenses horizontally. On the very rare occasion it worked, once the Rams added Todd Gurley as a downhill weapon. But there's no way around it: Austin was a bust with the pick. Fortunately for the Rams, the entire draft was basically a bust, with only eight players remaining on their original teams from the first round. 

Los Angeles gave him an extension that was questionable the moment he signed it. Even when L.A. brought in Sean McVay, the offensive-minded coach could not find a way to make it work with Austin. He would have been cut this offseason were it not for the amount of money guaranteed on his contract and a willingness to restructure.

Dallas is a weird fit because they have a cluster of wide receivers who simply aren't No. 1's and Austin certainly isn't one either. Ryan Switzer and Cole Beasley are already on the roster.

So what's the plan here? Maybe the Cowboys are going to figure out a way to circumvent the rules, Vincent Adultman style.

It's entirely possible he'll be used primarily as a running back to backup Ezekiel Elliott and to utilize in jet sweep situations.

It sounds like it might actually be the way the Cowboys are leaning.

That's not a terrible idea, per se, but it's curious the Cowboys would give up a sixth-round pick and take on Austin's contract. Per Spotrac, Austin will cost the Cowboys $3 million, while the Rams will take a $4 million dead cap hit. 

Dallas has released Dez Bryant, is expecting Jason Witten to retire and generally wants to make the offense more "Dak friendly," which is a fun thing to say in April and an extremely different thing to practice in September. If Austin makes any kind of impact for the Cowboys (500 total yards) it should be considered a small victory.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories