The Miami Dolphins signed defensive end Mario Williams to a two-year deal before the 2016 season, but the team announced they cut ties with the former No. 1 overall draft pick Thursday following an underwhelming inaugural campaign in South Florida.
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald noted that by releasing Williams, the Dolphins are going to save $8.5 million in cap space for 2017.
Williams' deal was initially valued at $17 million over two years, but the Dolphins were able to save cap space by releasing him now. According to Spotrac, $3.5 million of Williams' $8.5 million base salary for 2017 would have become fully guaranteed if he were still on the roster as of March 13.
And based on the way Williams performed last season, that call was likely an easy one for the Dolphins to make.
In 13 appearances, Williams generated a career-low 1.5 sacks to go with 13 total tackles and a single defended pass.
|Mario Williams' Stats Since 2010|
|Source: Pro Football Reference|
During his underwhelming 2016 season, Williams was openly criticized by then-defensive coordinator Vance Joseph for failing to hold up his end of the deal.
"He's got to play better," Joseph said in October, per the Palm Beach Post's Joe Schad. "He's got to play harder. He's got to play better. … I think Mario has to play better. He has [to] play faster and more consistent."
But even though his production and effectiveness has declined, Williams told reporters in December he doesn't want to entertain the thought of calling it quits.
"No, no," the 32-year-old said, per the Miami Herald's Adam H. Beasley. "I don't want it to end like this."
The question now is whether Williams can convince a team out there that he's worth another shot. Although he undoubtedly has some gas left in the tank, the tape he churned out in 2016 was uninspiring.
As a result, the best-case scenario would appear to be Williams inking a one-year deal with a contender in need of a rotational edge-rusher.
In that role, expectations would be lower off the bat, and Williams would be able to carve out a more comfortable niche that allows him to thrive without the burdensome pressure a more lucrative deal would bring.
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