After dabbling strongly with trading him or cutting him, sources say the Rams are now intent on keeping Tavon Austin— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 16, 2018
Tavon Austin remaining with #Rams after restructuring his contract— Vincent Bonsignore (@DailyNewsVinny) March 16, 2018
Yes, the on again, off again relationship between the Los Angeles Rams and WR Tavon Austin, or really Austin’s contract, continues on tonight with the news that the Rams are “intent on keeping” the unproductive first-round pick from the 2013 NFL Draft.
If true, it’s certainly a decision that is incredibly difficult to endorse. In 2016, Austin logged 58 receptions on 106 targets for 509 receiving yards ‒ all single-season career highs. Under new Head Coach Sean McVay in 2017, Austin’s usage plummeted to a paltry 13 receptions for 47 yards. He did factor in the ground game with 59 carries for 270 yards.
It was just two weeks ago that reports suggested Austin would either be traded or released. Reports like that tend to kill much trade value since teams can just wait for the player to be released and then sign him without having to give up any draft capital in a trade. We learned last night of the possibility of a pay cut, so who knows what changed in the last two weeks.
We’ll have to see what the contract terms are in a renegotiated deal, but at this point it feels as if Tavon is taking snaps away from the rest of the offense. His supporters point to his skill set and the potential that offers. For five NFL seasons, that skill set and potential has materialized far too rarely. After one season, fans were quick to support the exit of WR Sammy Watkins and his low production though his 593 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 2017 surpassed any single-season outputs from Austin. Ironically enough as their deals stand, Austin is scheduled to make $8m in 2018 while Watkins in his new deal with the Kansas City Chiefs is scheduled to earn $200k less.
We’ll have to see if this means a renewed focus on finding ways to make use of Austin in a legitimate way or if this is simply a shuffling of salary cap requirements to create a more tenable situation beyond 2018.
Austin is scheduled to receive a guaranteed $5m bonus tomorrow. His released would have opened $3m in cap space.
A new deal obviously changes Tavon’s salary. It does little to change his output.