Where will Dolphins Xavien Howard be traded?
By: Reese Nasser
Cornerback Xavien Howard’s time with the Miami Dolphins is coming to an end. The former second-round pick is looking for a restructured contract and the Dolphins don’t seem willing to make it happen.
Howard has proven to be one of the most elite cornerbacks in the NFL. His 2020 season was one of the best seasons for a corner in recent years.
Howard’s presence would help improve any secondary in the NFL. He is a proven lockdown corner that teams are forced to avoid. In 2020, he was targeted 90 times. On those 90 targets, he came away with 10 interceptions and 20 passes defended.
After signing a new deal in May of 2019, Howard became one of the league’s highest-paid corners. He is just now entering the second year of that extension. While Howard’s contract overall is one of the largest at his position, his annual pay falls right near the middle of the pack. Howard is due $12.1 million in 2021, which would make him the 11th highest paid corner this upcoming season. Howard believes he is worth more than that and wants a new deal. After also locking up cornerback Byron Jones, the Dolphins will have a hard time doing this.
This is where the possibility of trade comes into play. If the Dolphins can’t figures out a way to make Howard happy, he won’t report to the team. Both sides seem intent on not budging. There are a few teams that could make the play to go after Howard if the Dolphins and he do seem to part ways. Let’s take a look at the possible landing spots for one of the league’s best corners.
New Orleans Saints
A cornerback group of Xavien Howard, Marshon Lattimore, Patrick Robinson, and CJ Gardner-Johnson could be too much for the Saints to pass on. The secondary group has had its struggles and Howard would add much-needed depth.
With both him and Lattimore on each side of the field, they could keep up with nearly any receiving duo in the NFL. Offenses would be forced to go after one of them, and that would be a tough task to deal with.
A player of Howard’s level could be exactly what this defense needs. If this team hopes to stay competitive, especially in a division with a team like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have one of the league’s best receiving groups.
The Saints future is very much in the air. They have questions on the offensive side of the ball and there is still no sign on who will be the QB1. But an elite defense can take a team far, even if they have an offense that struggles. New Orleans could create something special if they add a player like Howard.
The Arizona Cardinals could be a much more intriguing landing spot for Howard. After losing Patrick Peterson to free agency, Arizona is missing a true lockdown corner. Howard could be that CB1 that every team looks for.
Arizona added Malcolm Butler in free agency but outside of Butler, the group is somewhat unproven. Another proven veteran could be necessary to keep this group in games.
2019 second-round pick is currently the corner opposite of Butler. He struggled throughout last season, allowing 57 receptions on 82 targets.
Howard in this secondary would help handle the issue of secondary play. It would also allow Murphy to fall back into more of a relief role where he can step in when necessary.
The Cardinals have put together a strong defense, with playmakers all over that side of the ball. Howard could prove to be the last piece needed to put it all together for Arizona.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers could be a dark horse candidate to sign Howard. The Chargers biggest defensive weakness could arguably be their secondary group. Neither starter from last season performed at a high level.
Howard would come to this team and be an instant upgrade. His ability to hold down an entire portion of the field is something that the Chargers have not had in their secondary.
After a strong performance last year from the team as a whole, the Chargers could be putting together something special. But without an elite secondary, this team could not live up to their true potential. Howard could be what puts them over the edge.
A secondary consisting of both Howard and safety Derwin James would be something that opposing offenses would have to be on the lookout for.