Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones stated on Saturday that he “can’t run or jump because of my injuries sustained playing this game,” which prevented him from participating in any of the 2022 NFL games. This was his first public statement after having leg surgery and missing those games.
In a pair of tweets, Jones said: “Much has changed in 8 years. Today I can’t run or jump because of my injuries sustained playing this game. DO NOT take the pills they give you. DO NOT take the injections they give you. If you absolutely must, consult an outside doctor to learn the long-term implications.
“It was an honor and privilege to play in the NFL but it came at a regrettable cost I did not foresee. In my opinion, no amount of professional success or financial gain is worth avoidable chronic pain and disabilities. Godspeed to the draft class of 2023.”
Jones had surgery on his leg in March of last year; the procedure wasn’t meant to hold him out of training camp. Summer courses began, but Jones kept up his rehabilitation.
When he declared Jones out for the season in December, head coach Mike McDaniel repeatedly voiced confidence that Jones would return to the field.
Much has changed in 8 years. Today I can’t run or jump because of my injuries sustained playing this game. DO NOT take the pills they give you. DO NOT take the injections they give you. If you absolutely must, consult an outside doctor to learn the long-term implications. https://t.co/g5TTHDQGSY
— Byron Jones (@TheByronJones) February 25, 2023
General manager Chris Grier stated Jones “tried everything he could to try and play so no qualms with that at all” in a post-season news conference. Jones was asked if he planned to play on and if he would stay in Miami for the 2023 season, but Grier chose not to respond.
The season just came to a close. He said in January, “We’re not there yet. We’re kind of nursing our wounds after the difficult loss yesterday and just going through the motions. We’ll meet with the coaching staff here, the trainers, and the doctors to discuss every player on the roster.
According to a source, Jones is not retiring and there is no active legal action against the way his injury was handled. The Dolphins signed Jones to a five-year, $82.5 million contract in 2020, making it the highest-paying cornerback contract in the NFL at the time ($57 million guaranteed).
Jones has participated in 30 of a possible 50 games, compiling 95 tackles, two interceptions, and 14 pass deflections. The injury guarantee for Jones’ $14.4 million basic salary in 2022 was triggered by his offseason surgery, but he then modified his contract and turned $13 million of the base pay into a signing bonus, freeing up $10 million for the Dolphins.
For the 2023 season, he has an $18,351,000 cap hit, although none of his $13.5 million base salaries is guaranteed. To spread out his incentive, Miami also added vacant years in 2025 and 2026. These years are not added to the contract; instead, they serve as placeholders for the prorated bonus.
Miami would save $3,547,000 in cap space and incur a dead money charge of $14,804,000 from a pre-June 1 cut or trade, and given Jones’ injured condition, finding a willing trade partner may be difficult in and of itself.
The Dolphins could save $13.6 million on their cap with a post-June 1 cut or trade, with a dead cap charge of only $4,751,000. However, the team wouldn’t be able to use the cap space until far beyond the first round of free agency.
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The Dolphins wouldn’t have to continue covering Jones’ base salary and any roster bonuses that are still owed if he retired. Nonetheless, the leftover signing bonus proration would start counting against the 2023 cap right now.
Jones’ contract has a $14.8 million signing bonus proration that will be applied to the 2023 cap if he retires, according to Over the Cap. The Dolphins may also release Jones in the event of retirement with a post-June 1 designation, spreading out the remaining cap charge over two years, and earning the cap relief in 2023.
Jones’ injury was just one of the numerous ones that limited the Dolphins’ depth at cornerback in 2022. In the first game of the preseason, Trill Williams suffered a season-ending injury, while Mackensie Alexander was released with an injury settlement last summer. A season-ending Achilles injury also struck Nik Needham, a future unrestricted free agent, in October.
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