$54 million Miles Austin mistake just got much worse

It isn’t the worst contract the Cowboys have given a wide receiver in recent memory, but man, the Miles Austin deal looks awful right now.

Austin hasn’t come close to playing up to $54 million standards in the first two seasons of his six-year deal. He has regressed since cashing in after his 2009 breakout season.

Austin was still the Cowboys’ No. 1 receiver in 2010, but he struggled with drops and had his numbers drop drastically across the board. He was the Cowboys’ third most productive wide receiver last season, when he was plagued by hamstring strains and managed to lose a potential Giants-crushing touchdown catch in the bright lights of the JerryTron.

And Austin’s contract got a lot worse when the NFL dropped the hammer on the Cowboys for getting a little too cute in the structuring of the deal.

As reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the league docked the Cowboys $10 million of cap space, which can be split over the next two seasons, essentially for exploiting a loophole in the uncapped season by giving Austin a $17 million base salary in the first year of his deal.

That’s a huge blow to a team that needs to fill a lot of holes this offseason. It might just cause the Cowboys to lose Laurent Robinson, a free agent who severely outperformed Austin while playing for the veterans’ minimum last season.

On the bright side, at least Austin has given the Cowboys much better bang for buck than Roy Williams did.