Xavien Howard

CB Xavien Howard Interested In Texans Deal

Xavien Howard remains unsigned after making it clear he would not remain with the Dolphins on a new contract. The former All-Pro corner is thus on track to join a new team, and he has publicly identified a potential landing spot.

[RELATED: Texans To Add CB C.J. Henderson]

During an appearance on The OGs Podcast, Howard made a number of notable comments. One of them was that he would be interested in a deal with his hometown Texans. The 30-year-old (who was released by the Dolphins at the start of the league year) could provide Houston with a starting corner to partner with Derek Stingley Jr. and add a veteran presence to the team’s secondary.

“I would love to do that; back at home, the crib,” Howard said, via Sports Illustrated’s Coty M. Davis“I have Houston Rockets and the Texans tatted on me… It’s a realistic option for me. They have a hell of a quarterback. I love a defensive coach.”

Indeed, Offensive Rookie of the Year C.J. Stroud and head coach DeMeco Ryans‘ respective showings from 2023 has made Houston an attractive franchise for free agents. Edge rusher Danielle Hunter is among the players who signed there in the early portion of the league year in a move which also represented a homecoming. Howard following suit would give the Texans a four-time Pro Bowler who has posted at least 12 pass deflections in each of the past four seasons (to go with 17 interceptions in that span).

The Texans (or any other interested team) would no doubt have concerns about a long-term investment given Howard’s age and, potentially, his asking price. The Baylor product will likely not come close to the $18MM AAV of his previous pact, something which could especially hold true if he elects to take less than market value to play on a contending team. Howard indicated a willingness to do so.

“I’d rather take a pay cut to go to a team that’s going to go further in the playoffs,” he said (h/t Davis’ colleague Omar Kelly). “I’ve got my money and stuff like that. I’m to the point, how much money do you really need?… I’ve already [been] paid, but now [a Super Bowl is] what I’m looking forward to.”

After making a run to the divisional round of the postseason last year, the Texans fit the bill of a potential contender in the AFC. Their efforts to add a new starter at the CB spot would certainly become notable with a Howard signing, and with roughly $20MM in cap space an agreement could be feasible. It will be interesting to see the extent to which Howard’s interest in a deal is mutual.

Dolphins Unlikely To Retain G Robert Hunt, DT Christian Wilkins; CB Xavien Howard Will Not Return

As of Friday afternoon, the Dolphins are still $20MM over the cap. They will not pick up any savings from the Xavien Howard post-June 1 cut for months, meaning more moves will need to transpire for the team to move under the 2024 salary ceiling.

This will affect how the Dolphins proceed with their top two free agents. Barring an 11th-hour change, both Robert Hunt and Christian Wilkins look to be headed out the door. Each will be a candidate to land a near-top-market deal at their respective positions, and it does not look like the Dolphins will be prepared to match such an offer.

[RELATED: 2024 NFL Top 50 Free Agents]

Hunt’s return looks unlikely due to the salary he will command, per the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson. Kevin Dotson‘s $16MM-per-year Rams deal (feat. $32MM guaranteed) may set the floor for Hunt, who has been a more consistent player. The Dolphins have maintained a good relationship with Hunt’s camp during this process, Jackson adds, but the market will probably push them out of the bidding. The parties discussed an extension months ago, but with the Dolphins paying Austin Jackson along with Terron Armstead, Hunt is probably on his way out.

Moved from right tackle to right guard in 2021, the former second-round pick has played well inside. As injuries and position changes (along with an O-line coach carousel) continued to take place over the past three years in Miami, Hunt was probably the team’s most reliable O-lineman. But with a top-10 guard contract likely, the Dolphins will face the prospect of replacing both their starting guards and starting center. Connor Williams is also a UFA-to-be, and while he is coming off a December ACL tear, he played well on a two-year Dolphins deal and should garner extensive interest regardless.

The Dolphins are believed to still be trying to keep Wilkins, effectively revealing a priority queue with Hunt at No. 2, but the price point will presumably move them out of the running. Wilkins should be expected to command an average salary in the $24-$25MM range, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said recently. The Dolphins offered the 2019 first-round pick top-10 DT money last year, before the sides broke off talks ahead of the season, but Jackson adds the team has not shown it is comfortable going to the $25MM-AAV place to retain Wilkins.

ESPN’s run stop win rate ranked Wilkins in the top two in 2021 and ’22, and after the Dolphins were hesitant to go to the Quinnen WilliamsDexter LawrenceDaron PayneJeffery Simmons level with their offer due to Wilkins’ modest sack production (11.5 from 2019-22), the Clemson alum ripped off a nine-sack contract year. He is set to cash in, with teams like the Texans and Vikings expected to be in on the bidding. In that likely event, the Dolphins will be tasked with replacing a five-year starter.

Elsewhere on Miami’s depth chart, no Dolphins-Howard reunion — one GM Chris Grier floated as a possibility — will come to pass. Regarding a return to Miami at a reduced rate, the former All-Pro cornerback said (during a 560 WQAM interview) “that door is closed.” Howard expressed a similar sentiment earlier this offseason when asked if he would take a pay cut to stay. That said, the soon-to-be 31-year-old corner will need to play the 2024 season at a lower rate compared to the big-ticket deal — which included $50.6MM in new money — the Dolphins gave him after the Byron Jones deal prompted the ballhawk to gripe about his own contract in the early 2020s.

Dolphins Prepared To Tag DT Christian Wilkins; CB Xavien Howard Reunion In Play

The Dolphins have work to do in the near future to achieve cap compliance, and a pair of notable defenders in Christian Wilkins and Xavien Howard could find themselves playing elsewhere next season. In both players’ cases, though, a continued Miami tenure cannot be ruled out.

Wilkins profiles as a top franchise tag candidate given his importance to the Dolphins’ defensive front. The former first-rounder is on track for free agency after extension talks were tabled until after the 2023 campaign. Wilkins certainly helped his value by recording career-highs in sacks (nine), QB hits (23) and pressures (30) this year. As was the case previously, he could therefore join the list of defensive tackles landing lucrative second contracts.

The position’s market saw a new second tier emerge below Aaron Donald during the 2023 offseason. Jeffery SimmonsDexter LawrenceEd Oliver and Quinnen Williams secured new pacts after Daron Payne hammered out an agreement with the Commanders following the team’s decision to tag him. Miami would be hit with a $22.1MM cap charge with a Wilkins tag.

To no surprise, general manager Chris Grier noted at the Combine that a franchise tag remains a consideration in Wilkins’ case (h/t Adam Beasley of Pro Football Network). Using it would further complicate Miami’s cap situation, but it would ensure he would not be able to test the market in free agency once the new league year begins. A long-term deal would be an obvious team priority, and it would lower his 2024 cap figure. Tagged players can continue negotiating extensions until mid-July before being forced to play on the one-year tender.

Grier also noted that the door is still open to cornerback Xavien Howard remaining with the Dolphins on a new deal. Miami informed the veteran last month that he will be released in a cost-cutting move, but not until the new league year opens on March 13. A post-June 1 designation would be necessary for the Dolphins to see notable cap savings. As a result, time could still exist for both parties to come to a new agreement.

Howard’s release would save $18.5MM presuming it proves to be one of the two post-June 1 cuts teams are allowed each offseason. An agreement eating into that total would come as a surprise, but the 30-year-old would still be a capable member of Miami’s secondary if he were to be retained. One of the league’s top ballhawks during his Dolphins tenure, Howard recorded only one interception in 2023, though, and the team already has Jalen Ramsey on the books for the next two seasons at a significant cap hit.

Miami will be a team to watch over the coming days as the franchise tag deadline (March 5) and the start of free agency approaches. Further clarity on the team’s plans with Wilkins and Howard will be in place soon as Miami seeks to improve in general on defense compared to last year’s showing.

Dolphins To Release CB Xavien Howard

Part of two pricey cornerback tandems in Miami, Xavien Howard did not have a chance to operate in the second one for too long. Less than a year after the Dolphins acquired Jalen Ramsey to pair him with Howard, they will move on from the latter.

The Dolphins have informed Howard he will be cut, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo and Peter Schrager report. Chosen in the 2016 draft, Howard is the Dolphins’ longest-tenured player. The two-time All-Pro will soon become a high-profile free agent. This move comes shortly after the Dolphins released Emmanuel Ogbah. Howard’s deal ran through 2026.

This release will not occur until the start of the league year, per NFL.com. This is presumably because the Dolphins intend to designate Howard, as they did Byron Jones in 2023, a post-June 1 cut. Not making this designation would prevent Miami from benefiting much from releasing Howard. By using it, the Dolphins would save $18.5MM this year. If Miami did use the post-June 1 option, its savings would barely exceed $2MM.

Teams can make two post-June 1 cuts each year, and although the league no longer mandates teams wait until June to make these moves, the Dolphins cannot release Howard now and designate him a post-June 1 cut. Needing to wait until the start of the 2024 league year, the Dolphins will still make plans for a 2024 roster that does not include Howard. Between the Ogbah and Howard moves — assuming the latter’s release is of the post-June 1 variety — the Dolphins will save more than $32MM. That moves the team to within $6MM of cap compliance.

One of this era’s top ballhawks, Howard has intercepted 29 passes — tied for fourth-most in Dolphins history. Twice leading the league in INTs, Howard has been a starter throughout his career. Set to turn 31 in June, Howard will now explore options outside of Miami. He is expected to generate significant interest, per Garofolo and Schrager. With the Bears preparing to use the franchise tag on Jaylon Johnson and the Chiefs probably considering the tag for L’Jarius Sneed, this year’s cornerback market could thin out quickly soon. Players like Howard would benefit.

Howard’s season under Vic Fangio was far from his best. Intercepting only one pass, Howard allowed 62.9% of the passes thrown his way to be completed. He brought down his passer rating-against number from 101.2 in 2022 to 81.3 under Fangio, but Pro Football Focus ranked the experienced cover man 98th among corners last season. Howard, however, had been one of this period’s better corners in previous years. The Dolphins rewarded him on multiple occasions in the process.

During the second half of the 2010s, the cornerback market stagnated. This affected Howard, who had signed a five-year, $75.25MM extension in May 2019. Despite Howard’s deal being finalized three years after Josh Norman‘s then-record-setting Washington pact, it barely raised the CB ceiling. Howard became disgruntled after the Dolphins agreed to terms with Jones on a more lucrative contract in 2020. Reaching free agency, the ex-Cowboys first-rounder did raise the bar. Howard, who had intercepted 10 passes during Jones’ 2020 Miami debut, was already seeking a new deal by 2021.

When talks did not progress that year, Howard requested a trade. The Dolphins did not budge there, but they not hold their ground for long on the financial front. They reworked Howard’s deal before the ’21 season, fully guaranteeing his salary while adding incentives. In March 2022, the Dolphins further rewarded their top corner by redoing his contract — an agreement that provided $50.6MM in new money. This reworking ballooned the dead money associated with a Howard cut, though it was probably unrealistic for the Dolphins to keep the veteran tied to his 2019 pact for two more seasons given the circumstances.

Howard did not quite live up to the latest contract adjustment, which the team made despite his original extension running through 2024. With Jones attached to a higher AAV and a better guarantee, the Dolphins broke with norms and gave into Howard’s demands that year. Howard soon became indispensable, with Jones missing all of the ’22 season with what looks like a career-ending injury.

Earlier this offseason, Howard said he was not prepared to take a pay cut if the Dolphins were to ask. It is unclear if they did, but the organization will close the book on a lengthy CB chapter. Howard also brought headaches off the field. In addition to the contract grumbling, the four-time Pro Bowler was arrested on a domestic battery charge. It was later dropped, but the Baylor alum was later named in a police report in connection with a shooting at his former agent’s home. That case was later closed. Howard never encountered a suspension during this period, and the Dolphins compensated him well over the course of his career.

Acquiring Ramsey in 2023, the Dolphins gave their new CB prize more guaranteed money by reworking his deal post-trade. With Tua Tagovailoa and Jaylen Waddle on the Fins’ extension radar, they look to be moving forward with just one high-end cornerback payment on their books. The Dolphins also have UDFA Kader Kohou on a rookie deal and used a second-round pick on Cam Smith last year.

AFC East Notes: Becton, Jets, Howard, Bills

Mekhi Becton‘s quest to solidify himself as the Jetslong-term left tackle did not come to fruition, but the injury-prone blocker did finish the season without an IR trip. A few other Jets O-linemen could not say the same. Becton’s contract year consisted of 16 games and starts at both right and left tackle. While the 2020 first-round pick would like to re-sign with the Jets, ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini notes the team is unlikely to have a strong interest in a second contract.

Pro Football Focus graded Becton 68th overall among tackles this season, and Next Gen Stats charged the slimmed-down tackle with 12 sacks allowed. That said, the Jets will need to be aggressive in their pursuit of tackle help this offseason. Duane Brown is 38 and played out a two-year contract. He and Becton departing would leave the Jets with two tackle vacancies, though the team has explored the possibility of shifting Alijah Vera-Tucker to right tackle on a full-time basis. But Vera-Tucker, drafted as a guard, has suffered season-ending injuries in each of the past two years.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • A player the Jets look to have more interest in signing, Bryce Huff, will not stay just because he has developed as a Jet. Pointing to his family and those around him, the young defensive end said (via SNY’s Connor Hughes) he will take the best offer he receives in free agency. The Jets, however, do want to re-sign Huff, per GM Joe Douglas. A former UDFA, Huff broke through in his contract year to lead the team with 10.5 sacks despite not starting any games. The Jets and Huff, who has not graded well as a run defender, discussed an extension during the season. The Jets have first-rounders Jermaine Johnson and Will McDonald, along with John Franklin-Myers, but losing Huff would be a blow for Robert Saleh‘s defense.
  • On the same note, Xavien Howard is unlikely to accept a pay cut to stay with the Dolphins, ProFootballNetwork.com’s Adam Beasley notes. “No matter where I’m going, I’m still going to do my thing,” Howard said. “Whatever comes with it, I’m excited about what will happen.” The Dolphins’ longest-tenured starter, at eight seasons, Howard is signed through 2026 on the contract he agreed to upon voicing issue with Byron Jones out-earning him. Miami gave Howard a five-year, $90MM extension in 2022, but the veteran ballhawk is now 30 and finished the season sidelined with a foot sprain. The Dolphins, who released Jones as a post-June 1 cut last year, can only recoup notable savings by using this designation on Howard. Now employing Jalen Ramsey as its top corner, Miami would save $18.5MM this year by using the post-June 1 designation on Howard.
  • The Bills will be without Gabe Davis in a second playoff game, ruling out the contract-year wideout for their divisional-round game. Davis is battling a PCL sprain, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. Davis represents an intriguing free agent-to-be, having scored 14 touchdowns over the past two seasons, but the Bills have seen 2022 fifth-rounder Khalil Shakir emerge as a player capable of being a low-cost Stefon Diggs complement going forward.
  • Additionally, Buffalo has not ruled out Terrel Bernard for its Kansas City rematch. Bernard was carted off the field against the Steelers, but the Bills’ top tackler only suffered a sprained ankle, Rapoport adds. The second-year linebacker aggravated the ankle injury he sustained earlier this season, per the Buffalo News’ Ryan O’Halloran. While the Bills are already without Matt Milano at linebacker, starter Tyrel Dodson — who missed the team’s wild-card game — is on track to return in Round 2.
  • Leonard Floyd collected an additional $1MM by reaching 10 sacks this season, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The May free agency addition signed a one-year, $7MM deal, one that has been vital due to Von Miller‘s struggle to return to form following his second ACL tear. Floyd, 30, totaled a career-high-matching 10.5 sacks this season.

Dolphins’ Jerome Baker, Andrew Van Ginkel Likely Done For Season

Already down Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb for the season, the Dolphins continue to run into brutal injury luck on their front seven. Injuries to Jerome Baker and Andrew Van Ginkel on Sunday night appear likely to be season-enders.

Just activated from IR ahead of Week 18, Baker sustained a wrist injury for which he has already undergone surgery. The sixth-year linebacker is out for the Chiefs matchup and likely the rest of the playoffs, according to NFL.com’s Cameron Wolfe. Van Ginkel, who has played a key role since Phillips’ injury, is also likely done for the season due to the foot injury that forced him out of Sunday’s night’s game.

In addition to these adjustments DC Vic Fangio will need to make, Mike McDaniel said the team is not expected to have Xavien Howard back against the Chiefs. Additionally, backup edge rusher Cameron Goode suffered a torn patellar tendon in the loss to the Bills and will miss the season, McDaniel said.

In the event Miami’s defensive personnel turns this into a shootout — a less common occurrence with this Chiefs edition compared to previous Patrick Mahomes-piloted teams — McDaniel said (via Wolfe) Jaylen Waddle and Raheem Mostert are looking more likely to return to action Saturday night. Waddle has missed the past two games with a high ankle sprain, while Mostert — the NFL’s touchdown leader, with 21 — missed Weeks 17 and 18 with knee and ankle trouble.

Still, Fangio’s troops are depleted to a point the defense will look quite different even from the shorthanded crew that took the field against the Bills. Goode’s injury left the Dolphins with Emmanuel Ogbah and Melvin Ingram on the edge. Fangio had benched the former early this season, and the Dolphins only re-signed the latter in December. The team used Ingram as a practice squad elevation in Week 18, doing so not long after cutting Jason Pierre-Paul. It would be interesting if the Dolphins reached out to JPP in this emergency circumstance. Miami still has quality personnel inside, in Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler, but its OLB setup has been gutted.

Van Ginkel has been effective as both a rotational rusher and a starter this season, notching a career-high six sacks along with 19 QB hits. He also posted a pick-six against the Commanders. Baker battled back from an MCL sprain; the Dolphins had used their final IR activation on their middle linebacker last week. A seventh-round pick, Goode played only 76 defensive snaps this season.

Dolphins’ Jerome Baker Returns To Practice; Xavien Howard Unlikely For Week 18

The Dolphins are moving closer to making their final IR-return decision. With one activation remaining, Miami is preparing to use it on Jerome Baker. The veteran linebacker returned to practice Wednesday.

Baker moving from the IR-return window back to the 53-man roster would close the book on the Dolphins’ injury activations this season. Isaiah Wynn and Salvon Ahmed reside on Miami’s IR. While Mike McDaniel did not close the door on Wynn returning when he went down in November, the second-year Dolphins HC classified the left guard starter coming back as an unlikely scenario.

A sixth-year Dolphins linebacker, Baker has been out since suffering an MCL injury in early December. The Dolphins gave Baker a three-year, $37.5MM extension in 2021; the deal runs through the ’24 season. Baker has been a starter since his rookie season, making 82 starts for the team that drafted him in the 2018 third round.

McDaniel did not confirm Jaylen Waddle would miss Sunday’s pivotal Bills rematch, though that is the expectation. But the young HC did say (via NFL.com’s Cameron Wolfe) Xavien Howard is not expected to go in Week 18. Howard sustained a foot injury against the Ravens.

Baker, 27, has excelled as a hybrid performer during his career. Stationed as an off-ball linebacker, the Mike Tannenbaum-era draftee has 22.5 career sacks. Only 1.5 of those have come in Vic Fangio‘s defense this season, but Baker has extensive pass-rushing productivity in his past. That could be relevant for a Dolphins team that has seen Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb suffer season-ending injuries. The Dolphins have until Saturday afternoon to activate Baker from IR.

Defensive injuries hounded Fangio during his time in Denver, when Chubb and Von Miller rarely saw the field together during the current Dolphins DC’s three-season run as the Broncos’ head coach. The Chubb ACL tear coming a month after Phillips’ Achilles tear reminds of those Broncos health issues, though these maladies have hit a Dolphins team that clinched a playoff berth. Miami, which played half the season without Jalen Ramsey, can lock down the AFC’s No. 2 seed with a win over Buffalo. A loss would drop the Dolphins to a wild-card position.

The Dolphins lost Howard four plays into their blowout defeat against the Ravens. While the team played without Ramsey for a chunk of the season, it was unable to deter Lamar Jackson in a likely MVP-clinching performance. The Ravens superstar threw five touchdown passes against the depleted Dolphins, who lost Chubb late in the game.

Howard, 30, has missed three games this season already. While Pro Football Focus has not viewed Howard’s ninth NFL season as especially strong, ranking him 99th among cornerbacks, the veteran ballhawk is a key part of Miami’s defense. Howard has 29 career interceptions, though only one of those thefts has come this season. It would certainly sting the Dolphins if he and Waddle were unavailable, as Miami has seen a number of starters go down during the season’s second half.

Release Candidate: CB Noah Igbinoghene

The Dolphins’ cornerbacks room could end up looking fairly different in 2023 than it did in 2022. That’s partially because of injuries that kept players like Noah Igbinoghene, Byron Jones, and Nik Needham off the field for large portions of the year. It’s also due to the acquisition of star defender Jalen Ramsey and the use of their top draft pick on South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith.

With all the adjustments, there’s a chance that Miami may have worked themselves into a situation in which a former first-round pick doesn’t make the 53-man roster at the end of the summer. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, barring injury to his teammates, Igbinoghene may find himself to be the odd man out come final roster cuts.

Ramsey and Xavien Howard are no-brainers to make the roster, as is the rookie top pick, Smith, likely. Ramsey comes in as a three-time first-team All-Pro and a six-time Pro Bowler. Over his seven-year career, Ramsey has started in every game in which he’s made an appearance but one, and that one was his debut with the Rams five days after being traded from Jacksonville. Howard is a former first-team All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowl selection, as well. He’s twice led the league in interceptions over his seven-year career.

Smith was a three-year starter for the Gamecocks and had experience outside and in the slot in Columbia. According to another report by Jackson, the Dolphins currently have Smith focusing on playing on the outside while trying to cut down on penalties. His versatility and ability to play in the slot, though, is a point against Igbinoghene, who was drafted to start in the slot.

After that, Kader Kohou and Keion Crossen may have earned their spots after stepping up in replacement of the injured Igbinoghene and Needham last year. As an undrafted rookie last year out of Texas A&M – Commerce, Kohou ended the season as Miami’s top-ranked cornerback, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). He started 13 games for the Dolphins, appearing just over half the time in the slot. Crossen was a reliable injury replacement who contributes strongly on special teams, as well.

Of the returning injured pair, Needham has shown more in his healthy time than Igbinoghene and has had more healthy time. Needham recorded two interceptions in each of his first three seasons in the league before missing 11 games due to injury last year. He was tabbed as the starter opposite Howard when Jones was expected to be out for the year. Miami re-signed him to a one-year deal this offseason after placing a second-round restricted free agent tender on him.

Igbinoghene struggled to stay healthy in his sophomore season, as well, missing 10 games. It wouldn’t reward the Dolphins much financially to waive the fourth-year player, whose fifth-year option was declined earlier this month. According to OvertheCap.com, the Dolphins would only gain about $536K in cap space while leaving about $3.04MM on the table in dead money, no matter when they waive him.

Many were a bit surprised by the use of a first-round pick on Igbinoghene to begin with. Three years later, and he hasn’t done much to inspire confidence in playing up to his draft stock. Only appearing in 32 games out of a possible 50, and making five starts, Igbinoghene has a career 29 total tackles, five passes defensed, and one interception. His injury history has contributed to the lack of production, but Igbinoghene has struggled to make the most of the opportunities he’s been given.

Regardless, the Dolphins have a logjam forming at the cornerback position. Special teams contributions will help Crossen and veteran special teamer Justin Bethel hold on to roster spots, while Ramsey, Howard, Smith, Kohou, and Needham are all expected to stay on the team. That alone would be seven roster spots dedicated to the cornerback position. Igbinoghene will need to have a strong offseason in order to prove he’s still worthy of a roster spot come August.

Notable 2023 Pro Bowl Incentives

The NFL announced their 2023 Pro Bowl rosters this evening. Besides the ability to list the accolade on their career resume (plus the monetary bonus that comes from participating in and winning the game), many players had a financial incentive for wanting a Pro Bowl nod. We’ve collected some of the notable Pro Bowl contract incentives below, most via ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter (unless noted).

Geno Smith‘s contract bonus came via a specific incentive that required not only Pro Bowl recognition but 20 touchdown passes, according to Yates (on Twitter). Smith hit that TD mark back in Week 13. The impending free agent is set to cash in following a breakout campaign during his age-32 season.

Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard has a more complex bonus worked into his contract. According to CBS Sports’ Joel Corry (on Twitter), Howard is one step closer to earning a $1MM bonus thanks to his Pro Bowl nod, but he’ll also need Miami to improve in either wins, points allowed, TDs allowed, total defense, interceptions, average net yards allowed per rushing play, or turnover margin.

Speaking of the Dolphins, the organization saved a chunk of future money since one of their players didn’t make the Pro Bowl roster. As Daniel Oyefusi of the Miami Herald tweets, Tua Tagovailoa‘s fifth-year option would have increased from $22MM to $28MM if he earned a Pro Bowl nod.

Dolphins HC: Byron Jones’ Rehab Not Progressing Like Team Hoped

On a day in which many teams are designating IR-, PUP- or NFI-stationed players for return, the Dolphins are standing pat with Byron Jones. The high-priced corner will remain on the team’s PUP list, and Mike McDaniel‘s reasoning provides more cause for concern.

The rookie Dolphins HC said Jones is not progressing “as fast as we’d hoped” in his recovery from offseason Achilles surgery, Marcel Louis-Jacques of ESPN.com tweets. Jones has been on the shelf since early March, when he underwent a surgery that was not supposed to sideline him for nearly as long as it has.

Jones, 30, entered this season having made 30 out of a possible 33 starts with the Dolphins. Miami gave Jones a then-cornerback-record $16.5MM-per-year contract during the 2020 free agency period. That deal led to an issue with Xavien Howard, who has since seen the team redo his contract, and it has not keyed the coverage success the Dolphins hoped. Now, the longest stretch of Jones unavailability is ongoing. The UConn product missed just one game during his five-year Cowboys stay.

Jones’ surgery was believed to require a two-month recovery timetable, but the offseason came and went without practice work commencing. We have now hit the seven-month mark here, but it does not look like the former Cowboys first-round pick will be coming off the Dolphins’ reserve/PUP list this week. Once the Dolphins open Jones’ practice window, he has 21 days to be activated or revert to season-ending IR. Jones, who reworked his contract this offseason, is signed through 2024.

Howard and Nik Needham have been Miami’s primary corners, and despite the team investing a 2020 first-round pick in Noah Igbinoghene, rookie UDFA Kader Kohou has worked as the team’s third corner in Jones’ absence. An Ivory Coast native out of Texas A&M-Commerce, Kohou has started the past two Dolphins games. Howard is uncertain for Miami’s Week 5 game due to a groin injury.