By the start of last year’s training camp, CB Xavien Howard requested a trade from the Miami Dolphins due to a contract dispute. Back then, Howard explained that he felt underpaid via social media as he considered himself one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL (He may be right on this one). Since being drafted out of Baylor in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Howard has been spectacular for the Dolphins. He has 27 total interceptions in his six seasons with the team. With 2020 being his best season, recording a league-leading ten interceptions, 62 total tackles, and 20 passes defended X (as the Dolphins call him) was also invited to the Pro Bowl.

The only downside with X is durability concerns, as he has been able to play just three full seasons in South Florida.

Xavien Howard is an elite talent at cornerback, a position that is now vital in today’s NFL as the game has shifted more towards passing. Great cornerbacks are hard to find; they are scarce; if a team is lucky enough to have one, they should pay to keep him. They simply make your defense better and present huge advantages against opponents. According to an “ICT Zone” article, cornerbacks are the defensive position most correlated to success over the last decade of football. They are considered the fifth most relevant position in the sport (behind the QB, TE, RT, and RG, respectively). But why are they so essential? Because if they don’t do their job adequately they can get exposed throughout the game.

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Howard has an average annual salary of $15 050,000 from a five-year $75.25 million extension he signed with the Dolphins in 2019. Not even close to a bad contract, right? Then, why is Xavien asking for more? It all started when Miami brought in former Dallas Cowboys CB Byron Jones and signed him to a 5-year, $82.5 million deal (the NFL’s highest-paid cornerback at that time). Howard immediately became the second-highest-paid cornerback on the Dolphins, which seemed unfair to him at that moment. We know the former Baylor cornerback was right, as he has outproduced Jones since he arrived in South Florida. Since 2020, Howard has recorded 123 total tackles, 15 INT, and one sack, while Jones has recorded 115 total tackles and just 2 INT (none made last year). Without a doubt, Howard’s demands have been backed up by his performance on the football field.

In August of 2021, Howard and the Dolphins ended their contract dispute. Both parties agreed to rework his deal, adding $1 million in pro-bowl-specific incentives and others dependent on Howard’s performance during the 2021 season. Additionally, all mini-camp fines were rescinded, and $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses and an additional $100,000 in workout bonuses were moved to his base salary as guaranteed money. Adding all up, the star cornerback could have earned up to $16,285,294 last season, making him the highest-paid CB in the league. But most importantly, Howard was then assured by the Dolphins that they would renegotiate his deal in February or March of 2022. The team gave its word to him, which should prevail over everything. If not, the Miami Dolphins lose credibility that can hunt them in future player signings.

We are now ending March of 2022, and the Dolphins still haven’t settled anything with Howard. It has been reported that Grier has had several conversations with Xavien’s new agent, David Canter, but nothing more. Grier has also stated that he believes that the star cornerback will be in Miami for the 2022 season.

In any case, I think Miami should prioritize this situation and pay the man what he wants so he can be here “comfortable” long term. Howard is an elite player in a position where talent is pretty hard to find in the modern NFL. The Dolphins have the edge over their opponents if they have him on the field. Trading him must be Miami’s last option, as the value acquired will undoubtedly be much less than what he can offer to the team. All of this assuming Xavien Howard wants to keep playing for Miami because if not, a different scenario should be analyzed and considered. As I have not heard or read otherwise at this moment, I think “X” wants to remain a Miami Dolphins.

The team has already addressed the offense as it was its weakest area last year. Still, it’s also essential to make the necessary efforts to keep an excellent defensive nucleus together. We already brought back DE Emmanuel Ogba and LB Elandon Roberts, but bringing back Howard is even more critical. Hopefully, this uncertainty ends soon, and the Dolphins can sign Howard to a long-term deal avoiding an unnecessary distraction before training camp starts.