Xavien Howard was the talk of the town on Tuesday. Actually, it was more about his absence from minicamp.
At his minicamp press conference on Tuesday, Brian Flores was asked numerous times about the contract situation surrounding their star defensive back who is coming off an outstanding season where he was in consideration for the Defensive Player of the Year award.
That level of success has complicated the offseason for the Miami Dolphins as the talented corner is seeking a renegotiation of his current contract.
There is no doubt that Xavien Howard is one of Miami’s better players across the roster and has been a consistent force for this team over the last few years, when healthy. The issue isn’t whether or not he is worth the money, it’s whether the Dolphins are in a position to pay him the kind of money that he wants.
Xavien Howard is one of Miami’s most important players but they need to consider their options when tying up so much money into one position.
Miami is in a tough spot when it comes to these contract talks due in part to the money they have already given to Byron Jones, Howard’s running mate last season.
"‘X’ (Xavien Howard), this is a little bit of a unique situation. I’m sure you guys all understand this. He was extended and now we’re talking about a renegotiation of an extension, so that’s a little bit different. – Brian Flores on Xavien Howard"
The Dolphins signed Byron Jones last off-season to a 5-year deal worth $82.5 million. This was one of those deals that reset the market when it comes to defensive backs and Howard clearly noticed.
He probably also noticed that he had a considerably better year than his teammate and one of the better seasons by a corner in the last few years across the NFL. Does that mean he is deserving of a restructuring of his contract?
Per overthecap.com, the Dolphins have about $7 million in cap space at this point in the year, which they could use a small piece of to restructure Howard’s deal. Howard would likely want to be the highest-paid corner in the league, which could eat up a large chunk of that $7 million.
Flores and General Manager Chris Grier will be in a tough spot when considering their contract options knowing that Howard is not the only player on their roster who is looking for an extension. Both Emmanuel Ogbah and Mike Gesicki are looking for a new contract and are each valuable members of this team. They may not have had the same success as Howard over the last few years, but they are integral parts of this roster.
By giving Howard the extension, the Dolphins would have a considerable amount of their cap dedicated to two players who play the same position. If both end up performing at a high level over the next few years and Miami drafts well, it could work out. If they don’t, then Miami could be in trouble down the road.
With all this uncertainty around Howard and his contract, Brian Flores was very clear about his position towards the player.
“We love ‘X’,” Flores said at his press conference.
This quote, and Flores’ insistence that the media in attendance write that quote down, sent a signal that Howard should be a Dolphin for a long time if all goes according to plan.