Los Angeles traded wide receiver Tavon Austin to Dallas on Saturday, ending his tenure with the franchise.
In exchange, the Rams received the 192nd overall pick, which they used to select Maine offensive lineman Jamil Demby.
Selected No. 8 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, Austin played in 75 games for the Rams, starting 50 of them. In that time, he recorded 1,238 yards rushing and nine rushing touchdowns, plus 194 receptions for 1,689 yards and 12 touchdowns. He took three punt returns back for touchdowns — one in each of his first three seasons — in all amassing 1,324 punt return yards.
But after suffering a wrist injury during the offseason program and a hamstring injury during training camp in 2017, Austin's role on offense was noticeably reduced. Head coach Sean McVay consistently praised Austin for his positive, team-first attitude throughout the 2017 season. But the wideout's troubles fielding punts led to the club replacing him with wide receiver Pharoh Cooper.
Austin had only 13 receptions for 47 yards last year, and 270 yards rushing on 59 carries.
Still, Austin's demeanor and competitiveness made Saturday's trade a tougher decision than it might have been otherwise.
Check out photos of Rams 6th Round selection Jamil Demby, OG, Maine.
Credit: AP Photos and University of Maine.
"if I were to say anything about one of my favorite human beings on the planet — [he's] one of the most competitive, mentally tough [people]. Glad I was a part of his life. Though to make those decisions," Snead said. "Last year Tavon, unfortunately, when Sean got here, he had the wrist injury and couldn't get on the field and fell behind. Unfortunately for him, we kind of moved on in terms of adding people to the roster and by the time he was able to get back, was never really able to get into the rotation.
"So, we did feel like Tavon deserved a chance to go try to be Tavon," Snead continued. "But, I can't say enough about that human being — just what he went through last year, where he was at on the depth chart by the end, but still being an unbelievable team guy."
"[I]n this short year that you're around him, what a special, unique person he is," McVay said. "Clearly an incredible talent where you see the athleticism, the explosiveness that he has to be able to create the big plays. I think you find out a lot about people when they go through some hardships or some adversity and all he continued to demonstrate is that he's all about the right stuff. Can't really echo enough about what Les said, just the amount of respect you have for the human being."
Snead said teams were inquiring about Austin's potential availability during the NFL Combine back in February and March. Then L.A. restructured Austin's contract, which in some ways put an end to that. But then things changed on Saturday.
"Today, really out of the blue, teams have checked in, 'Hey, are you still going to keep him?'" Snead said. "Somewhere in the draft today, got a text and a call from [Cowboys director of player personnel] Stephen Jones and he asked if he would be available. Talked with Sean and we thought it was the best thing for us and Tavon."
"Les had the majority of the dialogue that went on," McVay said. "I think it's a combination of you certainly don't like to lose players that can make plays and do special things like Tavon has done over the course of his career. But, I think you also want to be mindful of what a special, unique, person he his. We felt like that opportunity and all things being considered it was the right thing and to do right by him as well."
And with that, McVay said he wishes Austin well under the guidance of Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.