Ed "Pi Double i" Henderson
On Sunday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, when the Los Angeles Rams take the field against the Dallas Cowboys, they will see a familiar face on the other side of the field. The speedy Tavon Austin, whom the Rams traded to the Cowboys during the 2018 NFL Draft for a sixth-round draft pick now a member of the Cowboys team.
In 2016, Austin, signed a four-year extension to stay in Los Angeles, with the team that drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft. Austin signed a four-year, $42,000,000 extension including $28,500,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $10,500,000. In 2017, Austin earned a base salary of $3,500,000 and a roster bonus of $11,477,116, while carrying a cap hit of $14,977,116.
Austin's lucrative contract extension brought frustration from numerous Ram fans because Austin’s statistics did not measure up to that type of monetary reward of the elite receivers in the league. It appeared that he became lost in the shuffle, as he primarily was used as a decoy to open the running lanes for Todd Gurley impressive MVP run.
During the off-season, Austin's agent and Les Snead continued to negotiate in "good faith," but the two sides could not decide during the bargaining period. Austin's was due $5,000,000 after the Rams failed to release him before the 4:00 pm EST deadline as his salary would be received. If Austin's were released his salary would have freed up $3,000.000 in cap space to get further new players signed.
The Cowboys one of the leagues hottest team are winners of their eight out of nines games after acquiring receiver Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders. The Cowboys seemed to be dead in the water with a record of 3-6 but discovered a way to bounce back and win the NFC East and earned a Wild Card Berth.
The Cowboys defeated the Seattle Seahawks 24-22 in the NFC Wild Card to advance to the next round of divisional playoffs to face the Rams. The last time these two teams met, the game was played at AT&T Stadium, as it seemed as if the Cowboys were going to embarrass the Rams early. However, in the second half, the Rams defense buckled down, and the offense seemed rejuvenated after the half.
Austin will probably be an X-Factor against the Rams, as the Cowboys are a bit thin at the receiver position. The Cowboys lost starting receiver Allen Hurns when he dislocated his ankle in the game against the Seahawks. A gruesome injury to watch as Hurns made a catch and fought for extra yardage.
Receiver Cole Beasley listed as questionable while he recovers from an ankle injury suffered against the Seahawks too. Austin provided a spark for the Cowboys in that Wild Card game as he had two impressive punt returns taking one back for an 80-yard touchdown. However, for Austin demise, he would yet have another punt return for a touchdown nullified by a holding penalty.
The Rams defense will need to be aware of Austin's presence on the field as his speed may present a problem. Expecting to be more aware with Ezekiel Elliot, Austin on jet sweeps or vertical routes can attack a Rams defense that has given up a lot of passing yards of late. Austin in an open field can be critical but has a history not holding on to the ball, something that landed him on the bench while still a Rams player.
If Austin is looking to stick it to the Rams after they traded him to the Cowboys, the Rams defense will be more than happy to welcome him home with great punishment. Rams seek to advance to NFC Championship game against the winner of the New Orleans Saints and the defending world champion Philadelphia Eagles.
The Rams game is expected to have an estimated amount of 90,000 fans in attendance. However, the attendance will be challenged with many Cowboy fans heavily mixed with the Rams. The fans are optimistic on the Rams defeating the Cowboys and the Eagles upsetting the Saints. A Saints loss and a Rams victory, means that the Rams will face the Eagles in an NFC Championship at the Coliseum. The Eagles have beaten the Rams in their last two meetings when they played at the Coliseum, and with that being said, the team will make sure that there's not a third.