If the Miami Dolphins can’t pay Xavien Howard what he’s worth, they should move him now and get a haul of assets in return.
Not many guys would ask for a raise after one year of a five-year extension. Then again, not many players are Xavien Howard.
The star Miami Dolphins cornerback is holding out of mandatory minicamp this week in a clear attempt to see a change to his contract. Howard, 27, led the NFL with 10 interceptions and 20 passes defensed last season, garnering murmurs of Defensive Player of the Year talk.
A former second-round pick in 2016, Howard has starred for Miami over the past five seasons. Prior to the 2019 campaign, the former Baylor star signed a five-year, $75 million extension with $46 million guaranteed. At the time, it was a market-setting deal at his position.
However, things have changed since. The Dolphins paid fellow corner Byron Jones $82 million ($54.3M guaranteed) over five years in 2020 free agency, making Howard second-best on his own team. While general manager Chris Grier has done a terrific job in Miami, paying an in-house star less at the same position was bound to cause friction.
What are the Miami Dolphins going to do with Xavien Howard and his contract?
For Miami, it has a few choices. The Dolphins can re-negotiate the deal, which likely includes packing more guaranteed money into the next few seasons while tacking on a few years at the end, essentially acting as team options. Howard would certainly like protection, as the team would only eat $4.2 million over the final three years of the contract in dead money if he was released.
Miami could also stand pat, with Grier waiting Howard out. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Jones would be fined daily for missing training camp practices and the team isn’t allowed to waive the fine as has been the case in previous years.
Finally, the Dolphins could trade him. Miami has Jones on one side and second-year man Noah Igbinoghene, a former first-round pick, to man the other boundary. However, the Dolphins are already flush with draft capital and losing Howard, the team’s best player, would be a huge blow to their climb within the AFC East.
The best move is likely a restructure with a team-friendly extension on the back end. This way, Howard gets paid what he’s worth and the Dolphins maintain flexibility long term.