Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard reported to the team’s training camp in 2021, but he was not a full participant. In a “hold in” situation, the cornerback ensured he was not getting fined, but he also made sure everyone knew he was not happy with his contract situation - despite having four years remaining on a deal he signed in 2019. It was a weird situation, with Howard feeling disrespected because not only was he not going to be the top paid cornerback in the league in 2021, he was not even the top paid cornerback on the Dolphins. Cornerback Byron Jones was scheduled to make $16.1 million while Howard was around $15.5 million.
The two sides eventually reached a new agreement during camp and Howard returned to a full participant. “I’m happy. I’ll always be happy to be with the team that drafted me and stuck through the ups and downs,” Howard said after the deal was reached in August. “Just being here and being happy to be here and help guys out.”
At the time, the Dolphins and Howard, along with his agent David Canter, agreed that after the season, both sides would return to the negotiating table to discuss Howard’s contract. He is under the 2019 extension through the 2024 season, with a high salary-cap number of $16.4 million this upcoming year. “I’m just worried about this year right now,” Howard said after the agreement was reached last summer. “I’m taking it one year at a time. I’m focused on getting better and helping my team out the best way to win the game. That’s it.”
The Dolphins had a lot to do this offseason after they fired head coach Brian Flores, eventually hiring Mike McDaniel to take his place. McDaniel then had to build out a staff, while the Dolphins’ front office also had to take McDaniel’s player inputs and start designing their scouting, free agency, and Draft plans. As everything begins to settle into the normal offseason plans, one thing still stands out.
Miami still needs to return to the negotiating table with Howard.
“We’ve had several great conversations, on the phone and in person,” McDaniel said of Howard during Wednesday’s media availability at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I’m excited to coach the guy.”
Dolphins general managers Chris Grier also spoke with the media, laying out that Howard is absolutely in the team’s plans for 2022 and they know they have work to do. “Xavien Howard will be here,” he stated flatly. “We will talk about the contract, as we made that promise.”
Grier added, “I’ve had multiple talks with Xavien this offseason. Had some texts back and forth. We’re going to have conversations and see if we can come to some sort of resolution. My anticipation is that Xavien will be here next year.”
Howard was a second-round selection by the Dolphins during the 2016 NFL Draft. In six seasons, he has recorded 241 tackles, 71 passes defensed, 4 forced fumbles, 3 fumbles recovery with a touchdown, 2 sacks, and 27 interceptions with 2 touchdowns. He led the league in interceptions in 2018 (7) and 2020 (10). He has been selected to three Pro Bowls and has been a First-Team All-Pro selection (2020) and a Second-Team All-Pro selection (2018).
“We had made the promise to him, ‘We’ll look at it, play through the season, get us to the third year of the deal and then we’ll look at it, talk about it, ’” Grier said. “Just to be truthful with him and do it, that’s the right thing to do. If he wants to come back and play on the deal, we would, but we know that’s not the case.”
Miami has work to do this offseason. Howard has to be high on the list.