After helping the Birmingham Stallions win the inaugural USFL championship one month ago, cornerback Tae Hayes has returned to the NFL. The Carolina Panthers announced the signing of the former Decatur High School standout on Thursday night.
Hayes made 37 tackles and intercepted one pass as Birmingham compiled a 9-1 regular-season record. In the Stallions’ two playoff victories, Hayes had seven tackles, one interception, three pass breakups and one forced fumble.
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Hayes spent the final two weeks of the 2021 regular season on Carolina’s practice squad after he’d been in training camp with the Arizona Cardinals.
Hayes entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie from Appalachian State in 2018. He played in one regular-season game with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019, two with the Miami Dolphins in both 2019 and 2020 and one with the Minnesota Vikings in 2020.
In his six NFL games, Hayes was on the field for 137 defensive snaps and 29 special-teams plays.
The Panthers signed Hayes while experiencing injuries at cornerback in training camp. Keith Taylor Jr. and Duke Dawson have been sidelined, and Jaycee Horn has eased in after coming off the physically-unable-to-perform list on Monday.
Carolina had a roster spot for Hayes after waiving former Alabama long snapper Thomas Fletcher on Thursday.
Hayes became the fifth member of the Stallions to sign with an NFL team since the USFL season ended. The other Birmingham players who are in NFL training camps include:
· Wide receiver Victor Bolden to the Arizona Cardinals
· Defensive lineman Doug Costin to the Pittsburgh Steelers
· Wide receiver Osirus Mitchell to the Green Bay Packers
· Tight end Sage Surratt to the Los Angeles Chargers
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.