Ok, divorce may be a little harsh, but the Miami Dolphins and Xavien Howard have an issue that isn’t going away unless there is a compromise or resolution to Howard’s current contract. Howard apparently wants to be paid the highest at his position because he feels he is the best at his position and is coming off a career season in which he intercepted 10 passes and was a big key in the Dolphins turn around on defense from one of the worst to one of the best in the NFL. Both sides, it appears, seem firm on their stance. Howard wants more money, and the Dolphins want him to honor his contract because they extended it a couple of years ago and have 4 years left.

Before the 2019 season, the Dolphins gave Howard a 5-year contract extension worth 75 million and 25-30 million guaranteed, which made him the highest-paid at his position. Since then, Howard’s contract has been passed by 5 players in Jalen Ramsey, Marlon Humphrey, Tre’Davious White, Darius Slay, and Byron Jones. All player’s Howard is better than most will argue. Howard is distraught with the Dolphins giving Jones the big contract a year after, making him the highest-paid player.  Howard had a much better season this past year than Jones in which he had 10 interceptions compared to Jones 2, but beyond that, Jones struggled in the Dolphins defense and got beat at times.

On top of that, the Dolphins in the 2020 NFL draft used one of their 3 first-round picks on defensive back Noah Igbinoghene, which didn’t sit well with Howard either, which is understandable. Why would you draft a player at his position when you already have him and Jones under big contracts? Howard has also been subject to trade rumors. The Dolphins either traded or released 3 players in Kyle Van Noy, Erik Flowers, and Shaq Lawson, this past offseason. Only the guaranteed money is what most players will get and what most players care about. With teams cutting and trading players every year,  it’s understandable from Howard’s point of view to want to renegotiate with him being one of the best at his position.

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From the Dolphins’ point of view, in 2019, they tore up most of the roster as part of a full rebuild, but they valued Howard as a core at a premium position and give him an extension. When they gave him the extension, it was questionable because Howard had some durability issues with his knee and, in fact, missed the last 4 games in 2018 due to a knee injury. In his first 3 seasons, he only once played a 16-game season and the other two seasons missed 4 games or more. Howard is talented, but your best ability is your availability, so the contract was questionable at best. In fact, in 2019, Howard missed most of the season because of the lingering knee issue and needed surgery. On top of that, Howard was arrested in a domestic dispute, but charges were dropped, and it added another layer to why the Dolphins gave him a big extension. The Dolphins in 2020 added Jones and Igbinoghene as insurance in case Howard couldn’t make it back, plus the Dolphins needed to add more talent in the secondary because they didn’t have anyone else. Howard can be upset, but the team was covering themselves. I don’t think they wanted to disrespect Howard.

Howard hasn’t shown up for any of the off-season workouts, which is fine, but it becomes a different problem if he doesn’t show up for training camp. Will the Dolphins budge and give him an extension or at least restructure the deal, or do they stand firm and risk upsetting not only their best player but the locker room?

The Dolphins are in a different position than two years ago when they tore down their roster, other than giving Howard an extension. Instead, they traded Larmey Tunsil for 2 first-round picks and a second-round pick to load up on draft picks to rebuild this year. The Dolphins have used most of those picks and have built a good respectable roster, but the Dolphins have to start keeping their best players and paying them. I know Howard has 4 years left on his deal, but he’s one of the best, if not the best, at his position, so the Dolphins should try to make it work.

Now, if the Dolphins are offered a deal as they got for Tunsil, it would be hard for the Dolphins to say no to that. But I hope it doesn’t get to that. The Dolphins have let players go only to see them succeed elsewhere and not get better players to replace them.

This is a spot no team wants to be having their best player holdout or potentially holdout. I hope Howard shows up to camp and is ready to go for the season and have his agent handle the business of a contract. I also hope the Dolphins find a way to reward one of their best players and come to a compromise. The last thing I want to see is Howard, and the Dolphins play hardball and end up parting.