The Rams will either trade or release the former No. 8 overall draft pick, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported, via a source informed of the situation.
Coming out of West Virginia in 2013, Austin was billed as a prolific playmaker, worthy of sacrificing four draft picks in a trade with the Bills. Although he parlayed a breakout 2015 campaign (10 touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage) into a prodigious four-year, $42 million deal in the summer of 2016, Austin never lived up to the contract -- much less the predraft hype.
After a disappointing 2016 season under Jeff Fisher, Austin fell out of the receiver rotation once new coach Sean McVay imported former Buffalo wideouts Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods last year. Austin caught just 13 passes for 47 yards for a minuscule 3.6 yards per reception in 2017.
Austin's contract calls for a $5 million roster bonus this month, a prohibitive price tag for a gadget player and part-time punt returner.
If a creative offensive mind of McVay's caliber couldn't find a way to untap Austin's playmaking ability, it's fair to question whether the all-purpose threat will be more than a complementary piece in the next stage of his career.
In a situation such as this one, we tend to connect the dots to coaches in the player's past. Although Austin began his career under play-caller Brian Schottenheimer in St. Louis, Seattle's current offensive coordinator took criticism for failing to maximize the jitterbug's unique skill-set in St. Louis.
It's hard to imagine the Rams finding a trading partner for an underperforming player with a massive contract millstone hanging around his neck.