Cowboys reporters Calvin Watkins and Todd Archer breakdown the Cowboys, position by position, analyzing what the players did in 2013, what they can do in the future and what the team can do to improve the position in 2014.
A look back: Bryant had a strong 2013 earning a Pro Bowl berth after leading the team in catches (93), yards (1,233) and touchdowns (13). Among the starters, Bryant emerged as the No. 1 threat on offense and Austin struggled with his hamstrings and didn't have a touchdown reception. The Cowboys kept defending Austin's commitment to the game by saying he was fighting to get on the field, but the team shut him down for three consecutive games. Williams and Beasley produced solid seasons as backup receivers. Williams scored a touchdown in four consecutive games, but he hit a rookie slump and broke out of it late in the season. Beasley should have been used earlier in the season and proved to be a reliable target for Tony Romo out of the slot.
A look ahead: This is a strong group who improved under receivers coach Derek Dooley. Bryant and Williams can only get better and if the new playcaller (Scott Linehan) likes Beasley, he can have a major impact with the offense. Harris, while emerging as a returner, is a good fit for this offensive group.
A look out: This spells the end for Austin, who most likely will be a post-June 1 cut, saving the team $5.5 million. Austin regressed last season after nearly getting 1,000 receiving yards the year before. But it's probably time to let Bryant and Williams take over as the main threats in the passing game. The only negative to letting Austin go is the lack of veteran receivers. The Cowboys have used veterans in the past to pair up with young receivers from Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn, Patrick Crayton and Roy Williams. If Austin is gone, the vet of the group is Bryant, who was criticized last season for not keeping his emotions in check sometimes. He went off in the Detroit game and walked off the field before the Green Bay contest ended. The Cowboys need a more mature Bryant on the field in 2014, especially if Austin isn't around. Maybe the Cowboys can sign a veteran for a lower salary. Austin would be a nice fit here, but it's probably time to let him go elsewhere.