The Cowboys are currently projected to be roughly $25 million over the 2014 salary cap. Dallas will have to make several moves in order to clear the necessary space and releasing Austin might be one of the more likely moves. Austin is scheduled to count $8.2 million against the salary cap next season, according to Spotrac. As Archer wrote, the Cowboys would save roughly $5.5 million in cap space by releasing Austin as a June 1 cut.
Austin's contract pays him like one of the top wide receivers in the NFL. Injuries have limited his production in recent seasons and he finished this season with just 24 catches for 244 yards. The yardage was his lowest total since 2007. Even when healthy, Austin didn't play up to his contract. Dez Bryant is now the clear No. 1 receiver in Dallas and Terrance Williams turned in a solid rookie season. Pro Football Focus graded Austin as the No. 187 wide receiver in the NFL last season and last among Cowboy wideouts.
The 29-year-old Austin restructured his contract last season and could potentially do so again this year. That, however, would make his cap hit higher in upcoming seasons. If the Cowboys think Austin is on the decline and they have better options, releasing him now and taking the initial dead money hit is likely the best option.