Take a look at WR Miles Austin’s yards-after-catch per reception over the past four seasons: 7.3, 6.3, 4.7, and 4.6. While some of the decline can be attributed to regression toward the mean (we’d never expect Austin to continue to average 7.3 YAC per reception, so some decrease is inevitable), it’s also clear that the receiver has lost a little something.
The Cowboys could potentially save money by releasing Austin early in the offseason because his cap charge will rise after June 1, meaning his spot on the team in 2013 is far from a sure thing. Nonetheless, I think you’ll see him in Dallas next year simply because he’s still a really talented wide receiver. Players who stand 6’2’’, 220 pounds, run sub-4.5, and have 1,300-yard, double-digit touchdown seasons under their belts don’t grow on trees. The Cowboys will likely try to renegotiate with Austin, using the potential cap space they could retrieve if they release him early as leverage in their talks.