Xavien Howard may not be in Miami Dolphins long term plans
Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard is one of the best players at his position when healthy. However, he has the absolute inability to stay healthy. Is he a great player? Absolutely, but the best ability is availability. Howard has failed to be consistently available for the Dolphins since he was drafted in 2016.
Before we get into anything negative, it is important to note that Xavien Howard is a really damn good football player. His ability to stay sticky in man coverage while also looking to bait quarterbacks into throwing him the ball might be unrivaled by any other cornerback in the NFL. His ball prediction speaks for itself. When he is on the field, he is a nightmare for opposing offenses. All of this is important to remember when talking about moving on from Xavien Howard.
The injuries started early on for Howard. In his rookie year, he played only seven regular-season games, as well as the wild card loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2017, he was able to put together a 16 game season and showed flashes of brilliance towards the end of the year. His performance in a Monday night win against the New England Patriots is one that every Dolphins fan remembers.
In 2018, Howard was one of the best defensive players in the NFL. He led the league with seven interceptions, and he did it in just twelve games. The problem? Yes, he played in only twelve games after another knee injury. His 2019 season ended after just five games. You guessed it. Another knee injury.
That’s three out of four NFL seasons being affected by a knee injury. With an average salary of just over $15 Million per season, Miami should be considering their options.
The Dolphins signed star cornerback Byron Jones this off-season to a record-setting contract. They also drafted Auburn’s Noah Igbinoghene in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft. On top of that, undrafted 2019 rookie Nik Needham, appears to be a hidden gem. With all that talent in the room for the foreseeable future, is it worth paying Howard that much to not consistently be on the field?
Financially, it is pretty simple. After the 2021 season, the Dolphins can cut Howard and save almost $12 Million. They would also only take on under $3 Million in dead cap. That gives Howard two years to prove that he can stay healthy. They could even move on after 2020, save $6 Million, and take only an additional $6 Million in dead cap. With the salary cap potentially being altered for years to come by a loss of 2020 revenue, Miami should absolutely be planning for life without Xavien Howard when they enter their true winning window.