Cowboys hold options in retaining Austin

It’s no surprise to hear that Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones doesn’t believe WR Miles Austin isn’t going anywhere. It would take a considerable amount of compensation — and the Cowboys electing not to match outside offers — to pry Austin out of Dallas.

In a report from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jones was asked about applying the franchise tag on Austin, an idea which he shot down. While the Cowboys won’t use the tag — which would cost $9.521 million — there are other options for retaining the 25-year-old Pro Bowl receiver.

Jones suggested that the Cowboys would offer Austin the $3.168 million tender as a restricted free agent, with Dallas receiving first- and third-round draft picks as compensation if he’s signed by another team. As a franchise player, the Cowboys would receive two first-round picks if they lost Austin. From the Cowboys’ perspective, that’s a roughly $6 million difference, keeping in mind that history suggests no team would be willing to part with two high picks for a restricted free agent.

And the Cowboys, of course, have the right of first refusal.

As Nick Eatman points out on the team’s official blog, the Cowboys have plenty of options, including the solution of a long-term deal. Looking at both sides, Josh Ellis suggests a franchise tag is the safer option, considering the possible inclusion of a poison pill in an offer sheet, and Rob Phillips notes the draft and developing players is more important than ever with today’s labor uncertainty.

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