A look at Miami Dolphins defensive end William Hayes ahead of free agency.
The AFC Championship and NFC Championship games are today, bringing the NFL season down to just the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl. By the end of today, 30 of the league’s 32 teams will be looking toward the 2019 season, starting with making decisions on their own soon-to-be free agents. Who should they keep? Who should they tag? Who should they allow to walk in free agency?
Justin Hier and I are working our way through the Miami Dolphins’ roster, looking at players with expiring contracts and giving you a chance to vote on whether the team should keep them, tag them, or allow them to walk. We are on to our fourth post in the series today, with Defensive end William Hayes in the spotlight.
Age: 33 (34 in May)
Experience: Entering 12th season
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 265 lbs
College: Winston-Salem State
Expiring Contract: 1-year, $4.05 million
Hayes’ 2018 season was extremely short. He appeared in three games, recording two sacks and four tackles before a torn ACL ended his season. Hayes had made two great plays back-to-back against the Oakland Raiders, stuffing Doug Martin in the backfield for a loss, then sacking Derek Carr. As he was taking Carr to the ground, Hayes attempted to reposition himself to avoid the roughing the passer penalties for landing with full body weight on a quarterback which were prevalent at the start of the season. In that twisting, Hayes’ ACL gave out and his season was over.
If this was William Hayes’ last play of the season because of the knee injury he suffered then he went out like the true warrior he is. I have so much respect for his game. He’s an old school football player. Not many left like him in the game today. pic.twitter.com/PhqetkD2AQ— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) September 24, 2018
Here's the injury that happened to William Hayes.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 24, 2018
He's out for the season because he tried to obey a ridiculous rule. pic.twitter.com/jomoaGI8MP
It was the second straight year the Dolphins had to place Hayes on injured reserve. In 2017, he played in 10 games before a back injury ended his season.
Hayes will be 34 and coming off a serious injury. He will be hard to be counted upon as a key contributor, but he also was clearly missed by the Dolphins defense - especially against the run - when he was lost for the season. Entering what would be his 12th season, Hayes could be leaning toward retirement rather than pushing his body through the rehab and preparations for another season - though there has not been any leaked talk about that.
If Hayes plays in 2019, he is likely a rotational defensive end for run stopping or a pass rushing defensive tackle. He could fit into a 3-4 scheme as a defensive end - and there is talk that Miami could be looking to move to that scheme with new head coach Brian Flores.
Hayes has value for a team that needs to rebuild their defensive line, especially when it is a defensive line that struggled against the run most of the season. He proved value as a defensive tackle and could play there or defensive end for the Dolphins. Coming off an ACL tear at 34 years-old will likely limit the competition for Hayes, so Miami could look to re-sign him to a contract similar or less than last year’s $4 million deal. He provides veteran depth to the defensive line in multiple positions and seems to be well respected in the locker room.
I will not include the tag option for Hayes, because there is no realistic reason to use a franchise tag on him.
My vote: Retain