Xavien Howard

Contract Details: Howard, Trubisky, Key, Jones

Here are some details on deals recently reached around the NFL:

  • Xavien Howard, CB (Dolphins): Five-year, $90MM. The contract, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports, has a guaranteed amount of $36.3MM consisting of a $17.12MM signing bonus and the next two seasons of base salary worth just $1.04MM in 2022 and jumping to $18.15MM in 2023. On the third league day of the 2024 season, $4MM of the 2024 base salary (worth $15.4MM) becomes guaranteed. Howard will receive roster bonuses of $3MM on the second league day of each of the 2024, 2025, and 2026 seasons. He also will receive an additional $1MM for each Pro Bowl and 1st-Team All-Pro selection and $100,000 per year as a workout bonus. Howard had three years remaining on his deal before signing his extension. It’s extremely rare for a team to draw up a new deal with that much time remaining, but Miami’s willingness to keep Howard happy is a testament to how important he is to the franchise.
  • Mitchell Trubisky, QB (Steelers): Two-year, $14.29MM. The contract, according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, has a signing bonus of $5.25MM set to apply evenly over both years of the deal. Trubisky’s base salary in 2022 is only $1.04MM and jumps up to $8MM in 2023. The deal holds a potential $8.5MM in incentives. $4MM of play-time incentives each year should be easily reached if Trubisky wins the starting job and stays healthy. The remaining $500,000 would be earned in $250,000 increments if Trubisky makes the Pro Bowl in either year.
  • Arden Key, DE (Jaguars): One-year, $4MM. The contract, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, has a guaranteed amount of $3MM consisting of the signing bonus and base salary, each worth $1.5MM. The remaining $1MM comes in the form of a $500,000 roster bonus and a $500,000 workout bonus. Key will receive a per game active bonus of $29,411 for a potential season total of $500,000. Wilson also reports that Key can earn up to $3MM of additional money in sack and Pro Bowl incentives.
  • Ronald Jones, RB (Chiefs): One-year, $1.5MM. The contract, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic, consists of a $250,000 signing bonus and a $1.25MM base salary. The deal was originally reported as “up to $5MM”, but Auman clarifies that any money past the listed $1.5MM would consist of incentives.

Dolphins, Xavien Howard Agree On New Contract

After much talk about a new contract being in the works for star cornerback Xavien Howard, the Dolphins have indeed signed him to an extended deal. As detailed by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (on Twitter), the pact is five years in length and includes $50.7MM in new money. 

USA Today’s Josina Anderson adds the new per-year average that Howard will receive is just over $25.3MM (Twitter link). Per his agent, that figure sets a new record for the most new money gained by a player signing a re-worked contract. Howard previously had three years and $39.3MM on his existing deal, so in all, he is now on the books for the next five seasons at a cost of $90MM. Meanwhile, Field Yates of ESPN reports that the new pact also includes the most guaranteed money ever given to a corner (Twitter link).

The 28-year-old agreed to a restructured deal before the start of last season, and actually re-worked it a second time in November. As Yates notes, those moves came with the understanding that a longer-term contract (and with it, a sizeable raise) was coming relatively soon. That time has clearly now come. After six seasons in Miami, the three-time Pro Bowler has totalled 27 interceptions and 71 pass deflections, leading the league in each category during an All-Pro 2020 campaign.

The $25MM-plus annual average comfortably eclipses the previous record for cornerbacks, held by Jalen Ramsey at exactly $20MM per annum. Pro Football Talk’s Aaron Wilson reports that Howard is the first corner to have five seasons’ worth of his compensation fully guaranteed. He now also has the unique distinction of becoming the first player to have a contract restructured with four, and now, three, years remaining on it at the time of signing.

This is the second notable financial move the Dolphins have made with respect to their CB tandem. They restructured Byron Jones‘ contract one week ago to create some financial flexibility while keeping the pair under contract. In other significant news this offseason, Miami has also, of course, added the likes of Tyreek Hill and Terron Armstead.

The Dolphins look to have a much-improved offense in 2022. The backend of their defense, though, will remain the strength of the roster for the foreseeable future with Howard in the fold long-term.

Dolphins, CB Byron Jones Rework Contract

The Dolphins are working to keep one the league’s most respected cornerback tandems together in Miami while retaining a bit of spending ability under the salary cap. According to Field Yates of ESPN, cornerback Byron Jones agreed to a reworked contract today to help create some cap space. 

The Dolphins converted $13.26MM of the base salary due to Jones in 2022 into a signing bonus. Along with clearing $750,000 of cap space by reworking the contract of safety Clayton Fejedelem, Miami was able to create $11.35MM of cap space. With the release of offensive lineman Jesse Davis and wide receiver Allen Hurns yesterday, the Dolphins have cleared $17.55MM of cap space in the course of two days.

The new available spending money makes the recent additions of tackle Terron Armstead and wide receiver Tyreek Hill (who was extended after his trade from Kansas City) a bit easier to stomach. Jones was able to joke about helping the team acquire such talent, tweeting out clown-faced emojis meant, in his words, to depict “(him) restructuring (his) contract just to have Tyreek Hill burn (him) everyday in practice.”

The Dolphins’ focus will now likely shift to the other side of the secondary with cornerback Xavien Howard. Howard is reportedly seeking an increase in salary and a reworked deal could kill two birds with one stone: getting Howard a new and improved deal while creating a bit more cap space for Miami.

Latest On Dolphins’ Byron Jones, Xavien Howard

Cornerback is arguably the strongest position group on the Dolphins, but it is also one of the most intriguing ones for this offseason. Byron Jones recently had ankle surgery, something which affects not only his contract, but also any potential trade market. 

The 29-year-old posted a photo of his ankle after the surgery on Instagram. The ailment didn’t stop him from playing in 16 games this season, his second in Miami. He totalled 58 tackles and 10 pass breakups, while performing essentially the same in coverage as he did in 2020.

As Cameron Wolfe of NFL Network reports, the procedure fixed a lingering issue and is expected to keep the former Pro Bowler on the shelf for two months (video link). That should mean he is available in time for training camp, though, Wolfe adds, it makes his $14.375MM salary fully guaranteed. That would complicate any potential trade market for Jones, something which had reportedly been developing. It would also make a run at another top corner – such as J.C. Jackson, whom Wolfe reports Miami has shown interest in – more difficult.

Meanwhile, Wolfe further reports that Xavien Howard could be in line for a re-worked contract (Twitter link). While there is “no deal close yet”, Wolfe adds that Howard “wants to be paid what he deserves”. That would mean a raise from the $13.7MM he is set to make next year, which ranks second on the team to Jones at the position. With 15 interceptions over the past two seasons, the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year finalist has demonstrated he is among the most productive defensive players at any position in the league.

As free agency approaches, then, what can be considered one of the most accomplished cornerback tandems in the league is set to be one worth watching.

Dolphins GM Talks Watson, Payton/Brady Rumors, Howard

THURSDAY: Set to pursue a media gig, Payton indicated to veteran NFL reporter Jason Cole (via Twitter) he would “probably not” have been interested in this Dolphins setup had he been given the chance to speak with the team. Once Payton lands with a network, the subject of his next coaching stop figures to come up fairly frequently.

WEDNESDAY: It’s already been a busy offseason for the Dolphins. The team hired a new head coach in Mike McDaniel, dealt with the fallout of former HC Brian Flores‘ lawsuit, and brushed off continued rumors regarding their quarterback position.

While speaking with reporters today, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier addressed many of the major story lines surrounding the organization. Most notably, the GM acknowledged that “the door is shut” on acquiring Deshaun Watson from the Texans. The organization has been continually connected to Watson over the past year, but the team’s decision makers seem focused on moving forward with Tua Tagovailoa.

Grier also addressed a recent report that indicated the organization pursued Sean Payton as their head coach and Tom Brady as their starting quarterback. While the GM discussed the team’s brief pursuit of the coach (which we detail below), he said the Dolphins “never had a conversation” with the future Hall of Fame quarterback.

The Dolphins general manager provided a handful of additional thoughts on the state of the Dolphins, which we’ve compiled below (h/t to Cameron Wolfe of NFL.com):

More on the Dolphins’ commitment to Tagovailoa as their starting quarterback:

“Mike and the staff have come in to do a lot of work, studied a lot of Tua and they feel good about his developmental upside, what he can be and then the fit in the offense. I think we’re good with Tua.”

On the Dolphins pursuit of Payton:

“[We called the Saints] to see if he is done with football or does he want to coach. … They told us no, they weren’t going to grant permission. So that was it.

“We stopped to see if he would have interest at all. So, I don’t even know if he would have interest.”

On cornerback Xavien Howard, who is seeking a new contract following back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons:

“My anticipation is that Xavien will be here next year. We made the promise to him — after the season, we’ll make the adjustment … just to be truthful with him and do it, that’s the right thing to do.”

On impending free agents Mike Gesicki and Emmanuel Ogbah:

“Mike knows how I feel about him. I drafted him and have had separate conversations with Mike. We’ve had limited talks with his agents.”

“As it got to the end of the season with free agency, both of those guys get to this point, they want to be able to see what their options are. They both told us they want to be back in Miami. They both love it here, they want to be back. We’ll see what happens.”

On Flores’ class-action lawsuit against the NFL and three teams (including the Dolphins):

“(At) some point when it’s done [i can discuss], maybe in the future, but I can’t comment on this right now.

AFC East Rumors: Jets, Cunningham, McCourty, Dolphins

The Jets wasted no time in 2019 when wide receiver Braxton Berrios was waived by the Patriots just prior to the 2019 NFL season. The fourth-year player from the University of Miami was tabbed early in his Jets’ tenure as Jamison Crowder‘s back up in the slot, but Rich Cimini, of ESPN, details how Berrios’s effectiveness running and returning the ball could net him a bigger contract than his fellow slot receivers.

The first-team All Pro return man hits free agency this offseason and it’ll be interesting to see how those talks play out.

Here are a few more notes on the AFC East, starting with another item out of the Tri-State area:

  • Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer has recognized the Eagles’ director of player personnel, Ian Cunningham, as a potential future general manager. The Jets, specifically, have tried twice to bring him on, as he and Jets’ general manager Joe Douglas are both products of the Ozzie Newsome tree from their time with the Ravens.
  • As the Patriots’ season came to an end with last night’s blow out loss to the Bills, ESPN’s Mike Reiss brings forth the question of Devin McCourty‘s future. The New England mainstay has been a lynchpin of the Patriots’ defense for 12 years. But, at age 34 with an expiring contract, what does the future hold for the Boston-based twin.
  • Cornerback Xavien Howard put enough pressure on the Dolphins in August that they restructured his contract with a few rewarding incentives. Howard made sure to cash out. Howard added to his salary $1MM for making the Pro Bowl and another $1MM for playing at least 90% of Miami’s defensive snaps. Barry Jackson, of the Miami Herald, details the situation in his Sports Buzz column.

Dolphins, Xavien Howard Restructure Deal

The Dolphins have restructured the contract of star cornerback Xavien Howard (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). By converting a portion of his base salary into a signing bonus, the Dolphins now carved out an additional $3.8MM in cap room for 2021. 

[RELATED: Dolphins Sign Parks Off 49ers’ P-Squad]

This marks Howard‘s second contract revision of the year. In August, the Dolphins ended Howard’s holdout by guaranteeing his entire 2021 salary while adding $3.5MM in incentives to his deal. Of course, that hasn’t done much to quell the speculation over his long-term future in Miami.

On the flipside, the Dolphins did rebuff a pre-deadline trade offer from the Ravens, back when they were a one-win team. It’s possible that Baltimore GM Eric DeCosta would have even coughed up a first-rounder to land the two-time Pro Bowler if the Dolphins were willing to eat a portion of his $13.8MM salary. Chris Grier‘s refusal — in the midst of a down year for Howard — indicates that he could still be in their plans for 2022 and beyond.

Since then, the Dolphins have rattled off three straight wins, bringing them to 4-7 on the year. Howard & Co. will look to extend the streak on Sunday when they host the Cam Newton-led Panthers.

Ravens, Dolphins Discussed Xavien Howard Trade

Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard‘s dissatisfaction with his contract led to his requesting a trade this summer, and although player and team were able to work out a revised pact to keep Howard placated, Miami’s 1-7 record in 2021 made him an obvious trade candidate in advance of last week’s deadline. And as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes, the Ravens made a push to add Howard in an effort to bolster their secondary.

Baltimore is sitting at 5-2 and clinging to first place in the AFC North, but the club has dealt with myriad injuries to star players and other key contributors. Per Rapoport, GM Eric DeCosta was actively trying to trade for proven talent at multiple positions of need, and Howard was the most notable target. The Ravens lost playmaking CB Marcus Peters for the year just before the regular season started, and Howard — who has twice the led the league in interceptions — would have made for an excellent replacement.

Pro Football Focus has assigned Howard a below-average 56.2 coverage grade this season, a steep drop-off from his 89.6 mark one year ago. Still, having him line up across from Marlon Humphrey was doubtlessly a tantalizing proposition for DeCosta, and with Howard, Humphrey, and Peters all under club control through at least 2022, the Ravens would have been loaded at CB next season. It would have also made it easier to allow Anthony Averett, who has replaced Peters in the starting lineup, to depart in free agency.

Of course, the Dolphins were not going to let Howard go for nothing, and Rapoport says that the ‘Fins were likely looking for a first-rounder and more for their star defender. DeCosta may have been willing to pony up that type of capital, but only if Miami absorbed at least some of Howard’s remaining $13.785MM salary for 2021.

In the end, the good faith negotiations between the two clubs did not produce a deal, and the Ravens — who did not swing a trade with any team, despite DeCosta’s best efforts — will attempt to secure a playoff berth with the talent already on the roster.

Dolphins, Xavien Howard Agree To Reworked Contract

Xavien Howard is staying in Miami. The Dolphins and their star cornerback have agreed to a restructured deal that gives Howard more earning power, as Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network was first to report (via Twitter).

This was the expected outcome after we learned yesterday that Howard had returned to practice. And while this transaction is believed to mark the first time in league history that a player with four years remaining on his contract has received new money and guarantees — without a full-blown extension, at least — it doesn’t seem like a particularly onerous commitment from Miami’s perspective.

The Dolphins fully guaranteed Howard’s 2021 salary of $12.785MM and added $3.5MM in incentives tied to playing time and a Pro Bowl or All-Pro appearance, as veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson details (Twitter link). Plus, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com and Dan Graziano of ESPN.com report, Howard will see $6.775MM of his $12.975MM 2022 pay fully-guaranteed right away. The remainder is guaranteed for injury for now and will become fully-guaranteed on the first day of the 2022 league year (Twitter links). Cameron Wolfe of the NFL Network tweets that the club is also waiving the $93K of fines that Howard incurred for holding out of minicamp.

Most importantly, perhaps, is the fact that the Dolphins have assured Howard that they will return to the negotiating table in February or March of 2022 (Twitter link via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald). Of course, Howard will need to stay healthy and continue to perform at a high level, and one hopes that player and team are aligned on the potential outcomes of a renegotiation next year. For instance, if Howard believes the team is open to an extension but the team is thinking more along the lines of another restructure, the relationship could sour quickly.

When Howard signed his current deal in 2019, he was the highest-paid corner in the league. But his current $15MM/year average now ranks just sixth at the position, and as he led the NFL with 10 interceptions last year and graded out as the second-best CB in the league per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics, he was pushing for a pay bump and requested a trade to force the issue.

Ultimately, the fact that he was still under club control for four years limited what the Dolphins were willing to do, but the team is certainly happy to have its top defender back on the field and at peace with his contract status. The adjustments Miami made to Howard’s deal seem like a small price to pay for that.

Dolphins’ Xavien Howard Returns To Practice

Things seem to be moving in the right direction for the Dolphins and Xavien Howard. The star cornerback returned to the practice field on Saturday (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport), which likely means he’s reached a compromise with the team on his contract. 

Howard, who’s frustrated with his now under-market deal, requested a trade late last month. However, the Dolphins have rebuffed all requests for the All-Pro corner.

We don’t want to trade X. Write that down. He’s a very good player. He’s a big part of the team. We don’t want to trade him,” Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said on Friday. “Talks are progressing. You take from that what you want. As long as everyone is willing to compromise, we can get something done.”

Howard led the league with ten interceptions last year and graded out as the second-best CB in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. However, his current $15MM/year average ranks just sixth at the position. At the time of signing in 2019, Howard was the highest paid corner in NFL history.

Now, just a couple of years later, he regrets putting pen to paper. Or, in his words, he’s no longer “comfortable” with the arrangement. Soon, Howard should have a new deal to push him back towards the top. At the very least, it should be a reworked pact to put him on a par with teammate Byron Jones.