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Pro Bowl Cornerback Xavien Howard: Extend Now or Wait?

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Xavien Howard made a switch in sports agents to Damarius Bilbo. Will Bilbo and the front office discuss extension this offseason or next? And what should the Miami Dolphins do?

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Tied atop the NFL interceptions leader with Kyle Fuller, Xavien Howard and his representation (Damarius Bilbo) can justify being handsomely paid at one of the most lucrative positions in football. For the Miami Dolphins, the question becomes: do we pay him now (during the offseason) or wait (after his rookie contract is up)?

The Case to Pay Him Now

The Miami Dolphins liked Xavien Howard enough to trade up to get him in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft. His rookie season was marred with injuries and inconsistency, but things started to click for Howard in his sophomore campaign. You might recall “X” picking off Tom Brady twice, despite having flu symptoms.

He has continued an upward trajectory, and the landscape of defensive football is changing, in my opinion. Defenses are emphasizing turnovers, and I believe defensive philosophy is going to center around this idea - rule changes make it very hard on a defense at the pass rush and pass defense level, and defenses are essentially forced to play a bend-but-don’t-break system. As sad as I am that gritty defensive football seems to be leaving the NFL zeitgeist, as they say: if you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevancy even less.

So if you agree with me that turnovers are the currency of today’s defensive world, and the Dolphins have a young player, drafted by the team, tied for the league lead in interceptions - isn’t the move to keep him here, even if it costs market value? Cornerback is 1A/1B with defensive end in terms of positional importance on defense. The Dolphins would be locking in a key cog in the defensive machine for the foreseeable future.

If we don’t pay him now, might he feel slighted and decide to test free agency after his rookie contract is up?

The Case to Wait

$30-35 million-ish in guarantees, that’s what the front office would likely be looking at to sign Xavien Howard at market value. Say Xavien has an outstanding 2019 campaign and the Dolphins neglected to lock him up after the 2018 season, will his 2020 contract really be astronomically higher than what his 2019 contract might look like? We could be talking about a difference in $5-10 in guarantees (which would also coincide with a rising salary cap), which might be an acceptable trade-off because...

Xavien Howard has had 3 knee ailments in 3 years.

2 right knee procedures in his rookie season (before training camp and during the season), and has been sidelined for the past 2 weeks with a meniscus issue on his left knee (he has recently denied reports that he had an arthroscopic surgery on the left knee). It might be enough of a concern that the Dolphins want to see him play another season to ensure that he’s healthy enough and productive enough to justify long-term investment. Economically, the front office might see the limited potential contract growth from 2019 to 2020 to say to themselves: “let’s see how 2019 plays out.”

Conclusion

It’s a tough decision. I see both sides honestly. I love Xavien, but a little worried about his long-term durability. In this moment, I’m letting Xavien play the 2019 season on his rookie contract and cross my fingers that he’s still in the conversation for long-term investment and doesn’t take the decision personally.

Let me know your thoughts down below in the Comments Section!!!

Poll

Would you extend Xavien Howard now or after his rookie contract?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    Now, he’s good and we need to reward "our own". I don’t want to risk him feeling unappreciated and look to leave in free agency.
    (256 votes)
  • 28%
    Wait, too much stuff can happen and his value is really high, how much higher can it get?
    (106 votes)
  • 2%
    Shut up, SUTTON. You’re stupid. Have you ever heard of condoms? You’re dumbing down the population.
    (9 votes)
371 votes total Vote Now