Tavon Austin

WR Tavon Austin Signing With Bills

Wide receiver Tavon Austin is signing a deal that will send him to camp in Buffalo where he’ll attempt to make the Bills’ roster this season, according to a tweet from Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. Austin has had trouble finding success since his time with the Rams and will attempt to jumpstart his career by filling the No. 2 or 3 wide receiver role on his sixth NFL team. 

The former top-ten pick out of West Virginia has had one of the more puzzling careers in the NFL. Widely known for having one of the best high school highlight reels of all time, Austin tore up the field during his four years at West Virginia. His senior season displayed his true potential as a triple-threat: receiving, rushing, and returning. In 2012, the Mountaineers receiver caught 114 balls for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns, rushed 72 times for 643 yards and 3 touchdowns, and averaged 11.0 yards per punt return and 25.4 yards per kickoff return, housing a return of each variety for a touchdown along the way.

Austin had trouble establishing himself as a receiver in the league, but demonstrated his elite elusiveness as a return man, being named a Pro Bowl alternate as a returner in his sophomore season. In the third year of his rookie contract with the Rams, Austin started to find the rhythm from his college days, becoming the first player since Gale Sayers in 1965 to score at least five receiving touchdowns, four rushing touchdowns, and a punt return touchdown in a single season.

The Rams gave Austin a four-year, $42MM extension before his fourth season. That season saw Austin record a career-high in receiving yards, but also saw his rushing and returning statistics diminish a bit. A frustrating first year under head coach Sean McVay the next year saw Austin’s usage plummet. Despite appearing in every game, and starting in nine of them, Austin saw a then-career-low 22 targets, catching 13 passes for 47 yards. His usage disappeared in the run and return game, as well.

In 2018, Austin was traded to the Cowboys in their attempts to replace former slot receiver Cole Beasley. In two seasons in Dallas, Austin caught 21 balls for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns. He signed in 2020 to join the 49ers, but was placed on injured reserve just prior to the season and released in October of that year. The Packers picked him up in December, but he gave very little in the way of on-field contributions. Last season saw Austin’s best season since his time with the Rams, as he played 13 games for the Jaguars, catching 24 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown.

In Buffalo, Austin will attempt to replace Beasley for a second time. The Bills are down their second- and third-best receivers (in terms of receiving yards) from last year, with Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders both hitting the free agent market. Besides tight end Dawson Knox, this leaves the receiver cupboard in Buffalo fairly bare with Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, and Isaiah McKenzie being the only returning receivers with at least 10 targets from last year. The team also signed Jamison Crowder from the Jets in free agency and drafted Boise State receiver Khalil Shakir in the fifth round of the Draft.

It will be interesting to see how the Bills plan on utilizing Austin if he makes the 53-man roster, as McKenzie and receiver Marquez Stevenson currently serve as the team’s return men, with McKenzie playing a very similar role to what Austin did early in his career. Regardless, it looks like Austin will be getting another chance, this time in an offense that saw success last year for two veteran receivers over 32-years-old with a lot of the same on-field tendencies as Austin.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/30/21

Here are Thursday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars Designate WR Tavon Austin For Return

Tavon Austin‘s debut with the Jaguars could be imminent. The veteran wideout was designated for return from IR today, the team announced.

This move will start a three-week clock. Austin can be activated to the active roster at any point over the next 21 days. If he isn’t activated within that time, Austin will be ineligible to play this year (although this would most likely be avoided by his release).

Austin joined the Jaguars in early August, and the team showed that they intended to keep him around when he survived final cuts. The team subsequently put him on short-term IR due to a quad injury, leading to today’s move.

The veteran hasn’t come close to matching the production from his days with the Rams. Over the past four years, Austin has seen time in 41 games (nine starts), collecting 756 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns on 110 touches. This included a 2020 campaign when he had only five catches for 20 yards in four games with the Packers.

Jacksonville has a talented grouping of receivers in DJ Chark. Marvin Jones, and Laviska Shenault, but Austin would provide another savvy target for Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars already prepared for Austin’s return when they moved on from practice squad receiver Phillip Dorsett today.

Jaguars Place Tavon Austin On IR

The Jaguars have placed wide receiver Tavon Austin on injured reserve, per a club announcement. The team did not disclose Austin’s injury, but the issue will keep him sidelined for an extended period.

It’s a frustrating setback for Austin, who lost time to injury last year with the Niners. He healed up later in the season to join the Packers, but didn’t see a ton of snaps in Green Bay. All in all, he finished with five catches for 20 yards across four games as a Packer.

Austin, the eighth overall pick of the 2013 draft, has been used more as a gadget player and returner than a true receiver in recent years. He was expected to return punts for the Jaguars and see some time in the new-look offense, but those plans have been scuttled for now.

He played really well Sunday,” head coach Urban Meyer told reporters on Tuesday . “We think with Joe and with Tosh, he’s a guy that it’s time to play. He’s been around and I can see the urgency in his look, in his practice and in the way he played.”

With Austin out of the picture, the Jaguars are left with five receivers in DJ Chark, Marvin Jones, Laviska Shenault, Jamal Agnew, and Tyron Johnson.

Jaguars To Sign WR Tavon Austin

The Jaguars have agreed to sign wide receiver/kick returner Tavon Austin (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo). Terms of the deal are not yet known, but it’s likely a low-cost, one-year deal.

Austin signed with the 49ers in August of 2020, but was placed on injured reserve before the season started. After his release, he hooked on with the Packers. At the time of signing, the Packers didn’t seem to have much depth at WR beyond Davante Adams, but Austin didn’t see a ton of action on offense. All in all, he finished with five catches for 20 yards across four games.

Austin, the eighth overall pick of the 2013 draft, has been used more as a gadget player and returner than a true receiver in recent years. He may still offer big play ability, although at 31 he’s not quite as explosive as he used to be. Austin may get a chance to return punts for the Jaguars, but he’ll have to solidify his roster spot over the next few weeks.

Jets Host Tavon Austin

The Jets have already given significant money to Corey Davis and Keelan Cole this offseason, but they might not be done adding receivers. New York worked out veteran Tavon Austin on Wednesday, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

It seems a contract is a real possibility, since Rapoport writes that it “sounded like it went well.” Austin has appeared on the verge of falling out of the league a couple of times, but has been able to find additional chances. He signed with the 49ers right before the start of last season, but was placed on IR prior to final cuts and then later released. He managed to latch on with the Packers in December and played in four games for Green Bay, catching five passes.

Notably, Aaron Rodgers highlighted Austin late in the season as someone who made a very positive impact on the locker room. Perhaps that’s what the Jets are looking for here. Austin was a big name player coming out of college after a decorated career at West Virginia, and the Rams drafted him eighth overall in 2013.

He made a number of splash plays, and had a punt return touchdown in each of his first three pro seasons, but never lived up to his draft status. His career-high in receiving yards was 509 back in 2016. The Rams traded him to the Cowboys in April of 2018, and he spent the next two seasons in Dallas.

He was mostly used as a gadget player by the Cowboys, with only 21 receptions and 12 rush attempts in 21 games with the team. He turned 31 in March.

Packers To Sign Tavon Austin

Tavon Austin is back in the league. The Packers will be signing the veteran wide receiver, a source told Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Austin signed with the 49ers back in August, but was placed on injured reserve before the season started. He was released from IR last month, and has been a free agent ever since. Green Bay isn’t super deep at wideout beyond Davante Adams, so this is a flyer that can’t really hurt. That being said, Austin has been used more as a gadget player and returner than a true receiver in recent years.

The eighth overall pick of the 2013 draft, Austin spent his first five seasons with the Rams. Current Packers coach Matt LaFleur was his offensive coordinator with the Rams for the 2017 season, so there’s some familiarity here. He never came close to living up to his draft status, but Austin had some electric moments with the Rams due to his speed.

He’s got big play ability, although at 30 now he’s probably not quite as explosive as he used to be. Austin spent the past two seasons with Dallas, and caught 13 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown last year. He also returned punts for the Cowboys and Rams, and it’s possible he’ll reprise that role in Green Bay. We don’t know the terms yet, although it’s fairly safe to assume he didn’t get any significant money.

Packers To Meet With Tavon Austin

The Packers will work out Tavon Austin, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The former Rams and Cowboys wide receiver has yet to see live action this year. 

Austin, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2013 draft, joined the 49ers over the summer and was said to be playing well in training camp. Then, when a knee injury forced him to IR, he was cut loose. Austin has never come close to justifying his draft status, but his speed and versatility continues to intrigue coaches around the league. In theory, Austin could feature as a receiver, rusher, and returner for the Packers.

Of course, health has been Austin’s biggest stumbling block as a pro. Over seven injury-laden years in the NFL, Austin has notched 215 receptions while averaging just 9.3 yards per catch. For what it’s worth, he did average more than 15 yards per grab over the last two seasons with the Cowboys, but that was in a super small sample size of 21 receptions.

The Austin audition comes after Darrius Shepherd fumbled on a kickoff return against the Colts. With over 200 career kick and punt returns on his resume, a special teams role could be Austin’s quickest path to getting back on the field.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/27/20

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

  • Promoted: LB Andre Smith
  • Released from reserve/retired list: DB Isiah Brown

Denver Broncos

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

49ers Place Tavon Austin On IR

It’s a bad year to be a 49ers wide receiver. Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com reports that Tavon Austin, whom San Francisco signed last month due to injuries to other wideouts, is headed to IR with a knee injury (Twitter link). Austin was signed on the same day as J.J. Nelson, who was recently placed on IR as well.

It’s an especially tough break for Austin, who was performing well in training camp and who may have been a valuable chess piece in head coach Kyle Shanahan‘s offense. Deebo Samuel appears unlikely to be available at the start of the season, first-round rookie Brandon Aiyuk‘s hamstring injury makes his status uncertain, and Jalen Hurd will miss the entire campaign due to an ACL tear, so Austin may actually have been in line for a sizable role.

The good news for the Niners is that Richie James has been activated from the NFI list. James had been dealing with a broken wrist, but it appears that he is on track for Week 1. He has served as the club’s primary return specialist over the last two seasons, and with Austin out of the picture, it seems likely that he will reprise that role in 2020.

The 49ers, though, could still use some depth at WR, and one wonders if the recently-released Mohamed Sanu could spark GM John Lynch‘s interest. As Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk writes, Lynch did not rule out a potential Sanu signing when asked about it this afternoon. Sanu played for Shanahan in Atlanta in 2016, when the latter was working as the Falcons’ OC.