Austin signs, waits for long-term deal

Updated: June 11, 2010, 6:44 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin signed his tender offer Friday, giving him a salary of $3.168 million for the 2010 season.

Austin is the last of the Cowboys' 13 restricted free agents to sign their tender deals.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said the organization wants to lock up Austin with a long-term contract and has held preliminary talks with agent David Dunn.

"He's a star receiver. You ask about those other guys [Dez Bryant and Roy Williams], but you feel the same way with Miles," coach Wade Phillips said of Austin's potential. "He takes it all in stride. He keeps working at what he's doing. He tries to get better every play and trying to do his best every play -- and his best is very, very good."

Under the normal conditions of the collective bargaining agreement, Austin would have become an unrestricted free agent. But when the owners opted out of the CBA, hundreds of players, including Austin, were pushed back to restricted free agency status.

Austin said three weeks ago he would sign a long-term deal with the Cowboys if one was presented to him, but is willing to wait on the team.

In 2009, Austin set career-highs in catches (81), yards (1,320) and touchdowns (11). Filling in for an injured Williams, Austin caught 10 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner, in an overtime victory at Kansas City on Oct. 11.

The 250 receiving yards surpassed Bob Hayes' single-game receiving team record of 246 yards, set in 1966. It was also the first time in NFL history that a player had 250 receiving yards in his first NFL start.

Following that game, Austin was pushed into the starting lineup over Patrick Crayton and continued to put up strong numbers. He added four more 100-yard receiving games and had 29 catches for 392 yards with two touchdowns the last four weeks of the regular season.

Austin also led the NFL with 15 catches of 25 yards or more and was third in the league with 613 yards-after-catch.

If the Cowboys hadn't finalized the tender, the team had the option on June 15 to reduce the tender to 110 percent of Austin's 2009 salary and still maintain his rights. Austin, who made $1.5 million last year, could have seen his salary reduced to about $1.7 million.

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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