Xavien Howard

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins HC: We Don’t Want To Trade Xavien Howard

Xavien Howard wants out. However, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores says that his star cornerback is staying put. 

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,” Flores said on Friday (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Cameron Wolfe). “Talks are progressing. You take from that what you want… As long as everyone is willing to compromise, we can get something done.”

Howard skipped mandatory minicamp this summer in an effort to secure a deal from the Dolphins. He signed his last contract just a few years ago but the market has advanced considerably since then. His current $15MM AAV has him ranked sixth at the cornerback position. Teammate Byron Jones doesn’t have as strong of a resume, but he ranks No. 5 on that list.

[The] business side of the NFL proves organizations don’t always have a player’s best interest at heart,” Howard said on social media recently, adding that he didn’t “feel comfortable” with the extension he inked just a few years ago.

We wanted things to work out with the Dolphins, and brought solutions to the table – like guaranteeing more money – that we felt were win-wins for both sides,” Howard continued. “These were proposal of adjustments that wouldn’t just make me feel more respected, but were also cap friendly. But the Dolphins refused everything we proposedThat is why I don’t feel the organization has dealt with me in good faith.”

Howard notched ten interceptions last year to lead the NFL, the second time he’s led the way in just three years. He also graded out as the second-best corner in the league, per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. The Dolphins have already received multiple calls on Howard, but it doesn’t sound like they’ll move him between now and Week 1.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Waddle, Howard, Jets, QBs, Mims

The Dolphins just made a massive investment in Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle by taking him with the sixth overall pick. While it’s too early to worry too much, it does sound like Waddle’s ankle may cause some anxiety for Miami fans. Waddle is “still not entirely back” from the broken ankle he suffered during his last season in college, Adam Beasley of Pro Football Network hears. He writes that it’s “still somewhat of an issue” nine months after the injury occurred.

Even though he’s participating in training camp practices, Beasley says he “still at times walks with a limp” and that “there are some within the organization who believe he doesn’t yet have the full explosiveness” he had with the Crimson Tide. Waddle said after a recent Dolphins practice that he was feeling good, but it sounds like this will be a situation to monitor. The injury was a devastating one, so it’s not all that shocking that it’s lingering.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Speaking of potential Dolphins drama, star cornerback Xavien Howard just gave his first press conference since formally requesting a trade. Howard was pretty terse in his media availability and didn’t reveal too much, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. When asked if he was optimistic that an agreement with Miami would be reached, Howard said “That’s up to the Dolphins,” he said. “I’m just here with my teammates.” Howard either wants more guaranteed money from the team, or a trade. He was also asked whether he hoped things would get worked out for him to stay, and he replied “yeah, I hope it gets better. It’s a process. I’m hearing this and that, but nothing is getting done right now.” When asked whether he had spoken to head coach Brian Flores, Howard said “we talked but didn’t go nowhere.” It sounds like things are at an impasse, with no end in sight. Buckle up.
  • One of the big questions surrounding the Jets this offseason has been whether they’ll add a veteran backup quarterback. Rookie second overall pick Zach Wilson will be the starter, but New York has very little experience behind him. 2018 fifth-round pick Mike White and 2020 fourth-round pick James Morgan are the only two other options on the roster. First-time head coach Robert Saleh “seems oppposed” to the idea of adding a veteran signal-caller, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes. If they don’t, “White is the favorite to be the regular season QB2,” Cimini says. White was originally drafted by the Cowboys, but came to New York in 2019. Cimini thinks the team may cut Morgan and try to add him to the practice squad.
  • This one will be a disappointment to Jets fans. 2020 second-round pick Denzel Mims is “no better than fifth in the pecking order at wide receiver,” Cimini writes. The team obviously had much higher hopes for him when they drafted him 59th overall just last year. He’s understandably behind veterans Corey Davis and Jamison Crowder, but it sounds like Mims has also already fallen behind free agent signee Keelan Cole and 2021 second-round pick Elijah Moore. Injuries limited the Baylor product to only nine games as a rookie, in which he put up 23 catches for 357 yards.

Teams Calling On Dolphins’ Xavien Howard

Xavien Howard wants out and plenty of teams are willing to help. Two playoff teams have called the Dolphins the cornerback following his latest trade request (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Other clubs have called too, setting the stage for a summer blockbuster.

Howard skipped mandatory minicamp in an effort to get a new deal from the Dolphins. That hasn’t worked — at least not yet. The All-Pro cornerback still has multiple seasons to go on his contract and the Dolphins want him to stick to the current agreement.

[The] business side of the NFL proves organizations don’t always have a player’s best interest at heart,” Howard said on social media this week, adding that he didn’t “feel comfortable” with the extension he inked just a few years ago.

We wanted things to work out with the Dolphins, and brought solutions to the table – like guaranteeing more money – that we felt were win-wins for both sides,” Howard continued. “These were proposal of adjustments that wouldn’t just make me feel more respected, but were also cap friendly. But the Dolphins refused everything we proposedThat is why I don’t feel the organization has dealt with me in good faith.”

Howard notched ten interceptions last year to lead the NFL. That marked the second time he’s led the way in just three years. He also graded out as the second-best corner in the league, per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. Meanwhile, his current $15MM AAV has him ranked sixth at the position. Teammate Byron Jones is No. 5 on that list — another reason why Howard is frustrated.

It’s not clear who these “playoff teams” are, but we do know that the Cowboys and Saints have previously inquired on Howard.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins CB Xavien Howard Requests Trade

Xavien Howard wants out of Miami. The All-Pro cornerback revealed on Instagram this evening that he’s requested a trade from the Dolphins (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter).

This trade demand follows Howard’s previous decision to skip mandatory minicamp in pursuit of a new contract. We recently heard that the defensive back was “dug in” on the contract issue, and it was anticipated that he’d stay away from the organization until the situation was resolved. Instead, the apparent standoff has evolved into a full-blown trade request.

In his statement, Howard said the “business side of the NFL proves organizations don’t always have a player’s best interest at heart,” citing the extension that he didn’t “feel comfortable” signing a few years ago. Howard also noted that he’ll continue to attend training camp to avoid any fines.

“We wanted things to work out with the Dolphins, and brought solutions to the table – like guaranteeing more money – that we felt were win-wins for both sides,” Howard continued. “These were proposal of adjustments that wouldn’t just make me feel more respected, but were also cap friendly. But the Dolphins refused everything we proposed.

“That is why I don’t feel the organization has dealt with me in good faith. I don’t feel valued or respect by the Dolphins. Just like they can take a business-first approach, so can I…That’s why I want to make it clear that I’m not happy and have requested a trade.”

Howard is coming off a tremendous season, intercepting a league-leading 10 passes (the second time in three seasons he has paced the NFL in INTs), and grading out as the second-best CB in the league per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. Though the five-year, $75MM pact Howard signed with the Dolphins in 2019 made him the highest-paid corner in the league at the time, his $15MM AAV is now the sixth-highest mark in football (one spot behind teammate Byron Jones, who is not as good as Howard but who was lucky enough to sign his free agent contract one year later). We learned late last month that Howard was seeking a deal that would at least exceed his teammate’s contract.

Howard’s situation is different than standard contract standoffs considering he has four years remaining on his contract. Whereas a player with one or two years left on his deal would be an easy candidate for a renegotiated pact, a player with Howard’s term would be eyeing a practically unprecedented reworking. Head coach Brian Flores seemed to hint at that “unique situation” back in June.

After one year, it’s honestly something that hasn’t been done before,” Flores said of Howard’s then-request for a new contract. “Not saying we’re drawing a line in the sand, but different players set the market every year.”

While the Dolphins would surely rather have Howard in uniform, not all is lost, as teams would surely be willing to trade for a player of his caliber. We’ve already heard that the Saints could be a potential landing spot, and Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com tweets that the Cowboys previously reached out about the cornerback.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints To Pursue Xavien Howard If Dolphins Make Him Available For Trade

The Saints have been linked to free agent cornerback Richard Sherman throughout this offseason, but Sherman’s recent legal troubles have probably severed that link, at least for the time being. Still, New Orleans would probably like another quality corner to line up opposite Marshon Lattimore, and GM Mickey Loomis could have his eye on one of the best DBs in the league.

According to Jeff Duncan of The Athletic (via Twitter), the Saints will be heavily involved in the bidding for Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard should Miami make Howard available via trade. Howard has four years remaining on his current contract, so the Dolphins are understandably reluctant to rework it, but Howard is said to be dug in on his desire for a new deal. If player and team cannot find some common ground, Howard could be on the move, despite the blow that would deal to Miami’s hopes of contention in 2021.

Though the five-year, $75MM pact Howard signed with the ‘Fins in 2019 made him the highest-paid corner in the league at the time, his $15MM AAV is now the sixth-highest mark in football. And on the heels of a terrific 2020 season in which he led the league with 10 interceptions and graded out as the second-best CB in the NFL per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics, Howard is trying to strike while the iron is hot.

Howard is attached to a $12MM salary for 2021, so the Saints, who have about $10MM of cap space, would need to carve out some room to accommodate a Howard acquisition (unless Miami kicks in some cash). But financial constraints never seem to be much of an issue for Loomis, who, along with vice president of football administration Khai Harley, continues to manipulate the cap in new and creative ways.

Obviously, Howard’s desire for a market-topping contract wouldn’t change if he ends up in New Orleans, so Loomis would also need to be prepared to pony up a $20MM/year deal in addition to premium draft capital. Such a maneuver could lead to a Lattimore departure in 2022, but at least for one season, the Saints would boast perhaps the top CB duo in football.

Although the Dolphins still have leverage over Howard given the amount of time left on his contract and the hefty fines that the CBA imposes for training camp holdouts, veteran NFL reporter Michael Silver says trade chatter is swirling around the 28-year-old (Twitter link). Silver adds that Howard is unlikely to get the new deal he wants from Miami, and that there are several teams in win-now mode that are considering a trade. He does not specifically name the Saints as one such club, though New Orleans does profile as a win-now outfit.

With training camp fast approaching, there should be more clarity on Howard’s future fairly soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Hesitant On New Howard Deal

Brian Flores described Xavien Howard‘s minicamp holdout as a unique situation, and the veteran cornerback is believed to be entrenched in his pursuit of a new contract. The Dolphins do not appear eager to meet his demand.

Howard’s camp approached the Dolphins to communicate the five-year veteran’s desire for a new contract that at least pays him more than teammate Byron Jones, but the team is hesitant to redo the All-Pro’s deal, Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com notes. This pause stems from the franchise having given Howard a then-cornerback-record contract two years ago. Four years remain on Howard’s five-year, $75.25MM pact.

The Dolphins paying Howard again so soon would certainly set an unusual precedent, and although the NFL’s first 10-INT player in 13 seasons has proven to be a consistent ballhawk, he has battled both injuries and an off-field issue. A domestic battery charge against Howard ended up being dropped, but the Dolphins dealt with that issue cropping up after a 2019 season in which the veteran corner missed 11 games. Howard also missed nine games as a rookie and four in 2018. Of course, in that 12-game 2018 season, Howard led the NFL with seven INTs.

Following Howard’s $15.1MM-per-year extension, the cornerback market moved for the first time in many years. Jones, Tre’Davious White, Marlon Humphrey and Jalen Ramsey signed for more than Howard in 2020; Ramsey’s $20MM-AAV accord leads all corners. The Dolphins gave Jones a five-year, $82.5MM pact last March. Jones’ deal came with $46MM fully guaranteed, which leads all NFL corners. Howard signed for $27.2MM fully guaranteed, which is ninth at the position.

Miami could opt to restructure Howard’s deal to provide additional bonus money now, or the team could piece together an incentive package for its top turnover producer. During Flores’ final year with the Patriots, the team agreed to incentive compromises with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. Also in 2018, the Broncos gave Chris Harris an incentive package. In 2019, after Denver signed Kareem Jackson to make him the team’s highest-paid DB, the team gave Harris a raise. But this involved a contract that was set to expire at season’s end, so only part of Harris’ previous situation applies to Howard’s.

The Dolphins have discussed Howard in trades over the past year but set a high asking price for him. It will be interesting to see if they end up revisiting trade talks, in the event Howard does not show for training camp. The CBA limits his options for a holdout at that point of the calendar.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Xavien Howard “Dug In” On Contract Issue

Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard held out of minicamp and appears prepared to stay away from the club until he lands a new contract. As Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes, Howard is “dug in” on the issue, and if he does not get what he wants, the impasse could last well into August.

Howard is coming off a tremendous season, intercepting a league-leading 10 passes (the second time in three seasons he has paced the NFL in INTs), and grading out as the second-best CB in the league per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. Though the five-year, $75MM pact Howard signed with the Dolphins in 2019 made him the highest-paid corner in the league at the time, his $15MM AAV is now the sixth-highest mark in football (one spot behind teammate Byron Jones, who is not as good as Howard but who was lucky enough to sign his free agent contract one year later).

So, if Howard had only one or two years left on his deal, a renegotiation would probably be a no-brainer for the Dolphins. But Howard has four years left, and it would set a dangerous precedent to rework a contract with that much time remaining. Plus, under the terms of the new CBA, Miami does have some leverage, as Howard would stand to lose $50K in unforgivable fines for each day of training camp he misses, and if he fails to report on time, he would lose an accrued season towards free agency.

In light of his dominant 2020 campaign, Howard might feel comfortable with those penalties. He may believe that, if the Dolphins won’t pay him, another club will be willing to trade for him and give him the top-of-the-market deal he’s seeking, thereby negating the fines and, perhaps, the free agency issue. However, Miami was justifiably demanding a king’s ransom for Howard at last year’s trade deadline, and it’s unlikely the club will lower its asking price too much.

Dolphins head coach Brian Flores recently acknowledged that Howard’s situation is a “unique” one, but he did not sound especially keen to rework the CB’s existing contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Flores: Xavien Howard In ‘Unique’ Situation

The Dolphins extended Xavien Howard in 2019, making him the NFL’s highest-paid cornerback at the time. The corner market, which did not move much for several years, transformed in the time since. This has put the Dolphins in an unusual spot.

A minicamp holdout, Howard is signed through 2024 and remains the league’s sixth-highest-paid corner — at $15.1MM per year. Brian Flores confirmed Howard’s absence is contract-related and that the Dolphins have discussed this issue.

It’s pretty clear this is a contract situation, which we’ve talked about internally,” Flores said, via ESPN.com’s Cameron Wolfe. “X is a little bit of a unique situation. He was extended and now we’re talking about a potential renegotiation after one year. Those turn into longer conversations. We’ve obviously had a lot of talks and conversations about that and we’ll continue to have those and keep them internal, but it’s a very unique conversation.”

Teams are not big on adjusting contracts so early, which would make it surprising if the Dolphins gave Howard a new deal. Flores added that the Dolphins “love” Howard and want to retain him. The Dolphins have discussed Howard in trades, Wolfe adds, but the talks did not veer into the serious stage. Miami set a lofty asking price for the corner at last year’s deadline.

After one year, it’s honestly something that hasn’t been done before,” Flores said of giving Howard another extension. “Not saying we’re drawing a line in the sand, but different players set the market every year.”

Howard rebounded from a five-game 2019 season to lead the NFL with 10 interceptions in 2020. His 10 picks are the most since Antonio Cromartie notched 10 in 2007. No defender has surpassed the 10-INT mark over the past 40 years, giving Howard some momentum after he also helped the Dolphins to 10 wins. The soon-to-be 28-year-old corner has led the NFL in picks twice in the past three seasons, having recorded seven in 2018. Since Howard’s seven-INT season in 2018, the cornerback salary ceiling has climbed from $15MM to $20MM AAV (Jalen Ramsey).

He joins Patriots All-Pro Stephon Gilmore as a minicamp holdout. Gilmore is three years older but has a better resume and is going into a contract year. That places the Pats’ top corner in a traditional renegotiation spot, though New England-Gilmore talks have not advanced far. Howard has moved into far less traversed territory regarding a new contract.

Adding to his unusual situation: Byron Jones‘ $16.5MM-per-year Dolphins contract. While cornerback play is about more than interceptions, Howard has a 22-4 INT advantage among the highly paid 2015 draftees. Jones’ $46MM fully guaranteed, which dwarfs Howard’s $27.2MM, still tops all corners.

The 2020 CBA prevents teams from waiving fines from training camp holdouts, giving the Dolphins more leverage. It will be interesting to see how far Howard extends this atypical absence.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.