Until NFL free agency opens on March 14, we at The Phinsider will be reviewing the impending free agents on the Miami Dolphins and evaluating whether or not the team should retain them, tag them, or let them walk. When front offices choose how to handle their upcoming free agents, they take a variety of factors into account, including age, production, and value, so we’ll be doing the same. Today, we continue with defensive end William Hayes.
The Dolphins brought Hayes to South Florida from the Los Angeles Rams last offseason in exchange for moving back from no. 206 to no. 223 in the NFL Draft. When Dolphins fans criticize Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum, they often overlook some of his more prudent moves, such as the acquiring of Hayes. The veteran defensive end was absolute steal considering what the team gave up for him.
During the 2017 season, Hayes played in 10 games before landing injured reserve with a season ending back injury. During those 10 games, Hayes was Miami’s most effective run-stopping defensive end as he rotated with Cameron Wake, Andre Branch, and rookie Charles Harris. Hayes accumulated 19 tackles and one sack over the course of the season.
Despite the lack of gaudy stats, the 32-year old’s ability to set the edge is what makes him such a valuable asset. Defensive ends that are as capable defending the run as they are rushing the passer are difficult to find in this league, making Hayes a rather unique player.
When Hayes joined the Dolphins, the team agreed to remove the 2018 portion of his contract in exchange for lowering last seasons’ salary cap hit from $5.5 million to $4.75 million. Should the team bring him back, it’s likely it can do so for an even lower price. Given his age, the 11-year vet won’t command top dollar on the free agent market, not to mention the fact that he’s already expressed his affinity for the South Beach-based franchise.
Phinsider Verdict: Given Hayes’ ability to provide much-needed support against the run and likely low cost, it would make sense for the Dolphins to bring him back on a team-friendly one- or two-year contract extension.
Should the Dolphins retain William Hayes or let him walk?
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