No matter what his contract said, William Hayes was always on a one-year audition with the Dolphins.
The veteran defensive end simply made it official recently by agreeing to chop the final year off his existing deal, and take a slight pay cut in the process.
Hayes will now become a free agent after the 2017 season, ESPN first reported, agreeing to give up $750,000 in salary this year for the chance to cash in a year earlier.
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Hayes, traded from Los Angeles to Miami last week for late-round draft compensation, had two years and $10.5 million left on his existing contract.
However, the final year (when he was due $5 million in base salary) was not guaranteed, and the Dolphins would have paid no salary cap price to cut him next offseason.
So Hayes knew that if he played poorly, he never would have seen that final year.
He’s betting three quarters of a million dollars that won’t happen. Hayes — who is now due a $2 million signing bonus, $2.7 million in base salary and a $50,000 workout bonus — will be 32 in May, and probably only has one real contract left in him.
The upside for him his obvious: He accelerated that potential bonanza by one year.
So why did the Dolphins agree to it?
They might regret the move if Hayes plays great this year, allowing a high-value player at a high-value position walk away for nothing.
So they’re sending one of two messages here:
1. Hayes was never in their plans beyond 2017.
Or 2. They believe his productivity is going to drop off in the near future.
If it’s the latter, it’s up to Hayes to prove them wrong