OXNARD, Calif. – Miles Austin sees the big picture as clearly as anybody.
He knows the Cowboys drafted a rookie wide receiver, Terrance Williams from Baylor, in the third round.
Austin is an intelligent man, and he understands that -- after a restructured contract lowered his 2013 cap figure to $3.5 million -- 2014 could be his last season in Dallas.
He’s scheduled to make $5.5 million in base salary and the cap number increases to $8.2 million. High numbers.
"There's new people coming into the league every year. People leaving the league every year. That's just the way the system goes," Austin said. "To be naive of the fact, you're lying to yourself. At the end of the day, I will continue to work and continue to work. Our team goals are above my own."
It’s not like Austin is an old player. Having just turned 29 on June 30, he caught 66 passes for 943 yards in 2012; he led the Cowboys with a 53.3 conversation rate on third-and-8 or more yards. He had two 100-yard games and seven games with five or more catches.
"I don’t necessarily equate my season to statistical categories," Austin said. "It's good and its bad. The season is what the season is."
Cowboys fans get frustrated with Austin's health. He's battled through hamstring injuries his entire career and, while he played in 16 games last season, he was still hurting. He plays and practices so hard the Cowboys have to be mindful of his health. During practices, the coaches have to slow him down so he won't come down with an injury.
It's his health, almost more than the salary cap, that is another factor that could push Austin out the door so he can be replaced by the younger Williams.
"You want to be 100 percent all the time," he said. "It is frustrating when you're trying to play at a high level. You're practicing at a high level and you're trying to compete at a high level, working your butt off every day. There (are) certain small injuries here and there, but at the end of the day, you've got to keep working. And the biggest thing that’s frustrating is just the fact we didn’t make the playoffs the last couple of seasons. I think that’s more frustrating than my own personal (goals). I feel like the team goals are much higher than my own team goals."
Sometimes we forget about the kid from Jersey with the New York accent who used to date that reality show star who just had a baby with a famous rapper. Austin used to be a big deal around here.
Bryant has taken over now. He's the new kid everybody praises.
Austin doesn't want you to forget that he's productive, too. It's just he'll probably do it for only one more season.