No, Von Miller didn’t part ways with “Bills Mafia.” But a former top 10 pick was cut.
Tavon Austin, who signed with the Bills on June 2 and just one month before they started training camp, was released by the team on Monday, August 22. He was one of two roster cuts by the AFC contender who will open the 2022 season against the Rams on September 8.
The biggest question involving Austin: How did it fall apart so quickly at his new surroundings?
Release Was Not ‘Unexpected’
Austin, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft when the franchise was in St. Louis, was starting to see a diminished role in what became an overcrowded Bills receiving room.
Heavy on Bills reporter Nathan Dougherty said Austin’s release “was not unexpected.” Meanwhile, Bills insider for The Athletic Joe Buscaglia made some stunning observations involving the wide receiver who once scored a combined 10 touchdowns for the Rams in 2015.
Buscaglia noted in his Thursday, August 18 report that Austin was missing practices and eventually got relegated to the Bills’ third team offense, given the bevy of options the offense had at wide receiver. He then mentioned where Austin needed to make his most impact.
“Tavon Austin has a tough road ahead,” Buscaglia wrote. “He had consistently worked with the Barkley offense when healthy and also missed a handful of practices. To make it, he’d need to wow the Bills as a kickoff and punt returner the rest of the summer.”
Buscaglia ended by saying “It would be difficult to justify him making the roster otherwise, but he remains an intriguing practice squad candidate.”
With his release, could this mean practice squad for someone who, again, was once a top 10 draft pick after putting together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at West Virginia? And for a versatile target who once caught, ran the ball and returned kicks for the Rams?
There’s another setback involving Austin that likely doomed his chances of staying on with Buffalo. Noted by Dougherty, the 5-foot-8, 185-pounder got into a fight with his own teammate Siran Neal during a brief practice scuffle on August 1 during training camp. Radio personality Sal Capaccio tweeted that Austin exchanged punches with Neal and that two other Bills players were involved in the altercation.
Austin Had Most NFL Success With Rams
Austin was once a dynamic chess piece for the Rams when utilized.
The former Mountaineer went on to score 21 of his 26 career touchdowns in a Rams uniform per Pro Football Reference. He established himself as a 50-catch threat with the ability to take handoffs and take punts back for touchdowns — which was what he did once in each of his first three seasons in the league.
In his five seasons as a Ram, Austin caught 194 total passes for 1,689 yards and scored 12 touchdowns through the air. He added 184 carries for 1,238 yards and nine rushing touchdowns.
Austin only played one season for Sean McVay, which was the head coach’s first season with the Rams in 2017 and Austin’s final campaign with the team. He eventually went on to the Dallas Cowboys for the next two seasons.
Austin has played for three different franchises since his departure from the Cowboys (Green Bay, Jacksonville and Buffalo). The latter team became deeper at receiver with the drafting of Khalil Shakir and signing of free agent Jamison Crowder — which got them to join Gabriel Davis and Pro Bowler Stefon Diggs.