I'm sure everyone is aware of the situation with Miles Austin at this point. Barring a last minute deal to save the current labor agreement between the players and the owners Miles Austin will be a restricted free agent when free agency kicks off in March.
So that means the Cowboys will have a few options on how to protect Miles Austin so he remains with the team. Stephen Jones made a statement today that basically eliminates the thought of the Cowboys using the franchise tag to protect Miles. So it looks like the Cowboys will use the highest tender offer to attempt to keep Miles for at least one more year. The Cowboys are guaranteed a first and third round draft pick if any other team signs him. In addition, the Cowboys would have the right to match any offer another team makes before he could join another team.
It appears that the Cowboys will most likely get away with the move to use the highest tender offer as opposed to the franchise tag. A team is highly unlikely to be willing to give up and first and third round pick in addition to making an astronomical offer that the Cowboys would not be willing to match.
But the one issue that could arise is the use of the dreaded "poison pill" clause in an offer to Miles Austin. What a team could do is put a clause in the offer that guarantees that he plays X amount of games within a certain state. So say Daniel Snyder wanted to prevent the Cowboys from matching his offer. He could put a clause in the contract that states that Miles Austin is guaranteed to play 8 games per year in the state of Maryland. Obviously the Cowboys could not match that offer since it would be impossible for the Cowboys to make the same guarantee.
Now there is no rule against the use of the "poison pill". But there is supposedly a gentleman's agreement between all of the league owners and general managers not to use the "poison pill" in a contract offer. Unfortunately with no actual rule you have to hope that all of the league owners will keep their word. A renegade owner like Daniel Snyder or Al Davis could make a crazy move and then the Cowboys would be out of luck.
I'm trying not to worry too much about the worst case scenario. Jerry Jones has stated that he is going to make sure that Miles Austin returns to the team next season. Jerry isn't the type of guy who doesn't get what he wants when it comes to players. Jerry has said that he plans to get Miles Austin signed to a long term deal either during the offseason or during the season next year. I have very little doubt that Miles will be suiting up for the Cowboys next season. But there is that tiny chance that the Cowboys could lose him. It would be a major blow to the team to lose Miles Austin. Let's hope it doesn't happen.