Acquired via trade with the Philadelphia Eagles just before the 2016 NFL Draft, cornerback Byron Maxwell immediately stepped into the role of top cornerback in his first season with the Miami Dolphins.
While Maxwell was Miami’s best option to line up against opposing team’s receivers, his play was a bit inconsistent for a guy who is scheduled to make $10 million after the 2017 season.
Still likely to be the Dolphins most relied upon cornerback heading into the season, the team has been steadily making additions to the secondary for what may become reality post-Maxwell if the team decides to cut ties with the seventh-year corner out of Clemson.
Speaking of Clemson, that’s where the Dolphins’ third-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft attended school as the team made Cordrea Tankersley the 97th-pick in the draft. Go back one more year and you’ll find that the team’s second-round pick was also a cornerback, Baylor’s Xavien Howard.
Tankersley and Howard, matched with Tony Lippett – whom the Dolphins front office and coaching staff is very high on – provide the team with options should the Dolphins move on from Maxwell and his hefty contract.
Why he might succeed and play with Miami beyond 2017
As stated earlier, Maxwell’s play was a bit up and down in 2016; however, it was much better than what he showcased during his one year in Philadelphia, and it improved as the season went on, which bolds well for his second season in Miami.
The loss of Reshad Jones in week five of last season was a big loss for the entire defense, but with Jones expected to be 100 percent healthy and ready to go in 2017, the defense – especially the secondary – should take a step forward with the return of one of the best safeties in the game.
In his second season in Miami, Maxwell will also be more familiar with his teammates and scheme to build off the success he had over the second half of 2016.
Maxwell arguably played his best football after being in the Seahawks defense for a couple of years, and while the Seahawks defense as a whole was better in 2013-2014 than the Dolphins’ is now, having experience and knowing the expectations of his role should help him moving forward. It’s unlikely that Miami’s secondary can match the level of play as Seattle’s back when Maxwell was there, but he knows what it takes for a secondary to succeed and be elevated to the next level.
Why his play may not improve and this is his final season in Miami
Despite landing a contract to the tune of six years for $63 million with the Eagles after four years in Seattle, Maxwell has never really been a “shutdown corner” against the opposing team’s top receiver.
As a member of the Seahawks, Maxwell had the luxury of playing opposite Richard Sherman and a pair of the best safeties in the entire NFL in Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor; that sort of company makes it hard for you to not to look pretty solid at your craft.
Then, once thrust into being the go-to guy in Philadelphia, Maxwell was exposed as the team’s top cornerback that ultimately led to him being traded after just one season with the Eagles.
There’s a chance that Maxwell will never emerge as a true No. 1 cornerback in the NFL and that he’s actually better suited playing opposite a more consistent, shutdown corner, rather than actually being a team’s top cornerback.
Odds of making roster
Maxwell is a lock to make the final 53-man roster for the Dolphins as even though the team has invested a couple of high-round draft picks at the position the last couple of years, they still need Maxwell’s talent and experience to get them through 2017 and serve as a mentor to these young cornerbacks as Miami’s most complete player currently at the position.