Tyreek Hill Contract: How the Cheetah became NFL’s highest-paid WR and was nearly a Jet

New Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill always wanted to play in Miami, but a strong offer by the Jets nearly sent him to New York.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Tyreek Hill instantly endeared himself to one fan base and enraged another when he gave an epic response to this question: How close were you to picking the New York Jets over the Miami Dolphins?

“Who?” Hill replied.

He then continued, “Nah man. I don’t even want to get into all of that. I knew I was going to pick Miami no matter what. Like I said, I’m here all the time. This is home for me, for us.”

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Tyreek Hill’s decision to join the Miami Dolphins

Hill’s deadpan answer made for a lasting memory from his Dolphins introductory news conference here Thursday. But the truth is, had Miami GM Chris Grier not swooped in at the last minute and promised to make Hill the highest-paid wide receiver in league history, Hill almost certainly would be wearing Gang Green instead of Aqua and Orange in 2022 and beyond.

On Thursday, Hill’s agent Drew Rosenhaus, who negotiated his four-year, $120 million contract extension that includes a record $72 million in guarantees, filled in the backstory on how one of the most shocking trades in recent memory went down.

“There was a time when we were talking to [the Jets]; it was almost a done deal,” Rosenhaus said. “So the Dolphins got in in the nick of time there to get this done, and I give them a lot of credit because a lot goes into this type of contract.

“You’re not just giving up compensation, you’re also creating a huge contract and to commit essentially $75 million guaranteed, you’ve got to give a lot of credit to Chris Grier, Brandon Shore, and of course Stephen Ross.”

The Dolphins gave up five draft picks, including their 2022 first-rounder, for Hill but were only willing to do so if they had an extension lined up before the deal was even done.

Chiefs were onboard with Hill’s shadow free agency

This remarkable chapter of an insane free agency began on St. Patrick’s Day, when the Raiders traded for Davante Adams and gave him a new five-year, $140 million contract.

Adams was on the franchise tag when the Packers dealt him. Hill similarly had one year left on his contract, and the Chiefs risked losing him for just a mid-round compensatory pick if they had him play out his final year and then let him enter free agency.

“Right after the Davante Adams deal, I called and spoke to [Chiefs GM] Brett Veach,” Rosenhaus said. “I told Brett that I thought that the market was set for Tyreek. We had started negotiating. I said, ‘Brett, Tyreek’s been a great player for you. He’s got one year left on his deal. If we can’t cut to the chase and get a deal that’s similar to Adams, how would you feel about working on a trade so you can get something instead of him just playing out his contract and leaving?’

“I guess they thought it over, and they gave me a call back and said, ‘What do you think you could get for Tyreek?'” Rosenhaus continued. “I told them I think I can get them a lot. More than Adams. He said, ‘If you feel that confident, that we can get that much, I’ll give you permission to talk to all 32 teams.’ I was able to talk to all 32 clubs.”

Hill had a number of teams interested in his services

Of those 32 teams, 12 showed significant interest, said Rosenhaus, who declined to name them out of respect for those teams. But once the Jets came strong with a trade offer and a contract extension structure, most of these teams dropped out.

“I wasn’t allowed to negotiate with teams on a contract until they had reached an agreement,” Rosenhaus added. “So they first reached an agreement on a trade with the Jets. We started negotiating with the Jets. And Tyreek gave it serious consideration. I let the other teams know that we were close to getting a deal done with the Jets.

“That’s when the Dolphins worked out the trade with the Chiefs. And then we started negotiating with the Dolphins. We pretty much negotiated overnight with them, which would have been Tuesday night. And then yesterday, I went up to Ocala with Jason to meet with Tyreek when we got there, and he shared with me that he wanted to play with the Dolphins. I called Chris Grier and Brandon Shore, and we got the deal done.”

Adam Beasley is the NFL Director for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Adam’s work here and give him a follow on Twitter @AdamHBeasley.

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