With last night’s Instagram post, Xavien Howard is attempting to win the PR battle. After getting shutout at the negotiating table, he took his grievances to social media with a formal trade request to go along with a few eyebrow-raising comments.
Before criticizing Howard, it’s important to be charitable and acknowledge where he’s coming from. The career of an NFL player is short, averaging just over three seasons. Clearly Howard isn’t just an average player, but even still, the prime wage earning window of the NFL’s elite is usually only 1-2 seasons. This is especially the case for athletically dependent positions like cornerback.
From the Miami Dolphins’ standpoint, they don’t want to dump more money into what is already the second-highest paid secondary in the league. The front office is surely aware of Howard’s injury history and weary of a likely return to the mean in production this season.
Brian Flores said on Tuesday, “Look, X is a great player, good teammate. His teammates love playing with him. I love coaching him.”
No doubt that Flores is just trying to keep the relationship tenable, but no “good teammate” publicly puts down another teammate to make a case for himself, no matter how obvious the case may be. In a profession predicated on trust, self-serving comments like this erode it instead.
Regarding Byron Jones, Howard must understand that each offseason presents a unique situation, where new markets get set and new kings get crowned. With the ever-increasing salary-cap (except for this season), the bar will inevitably be raised. In hindsight, we see where some players deserve it (Trent Williams, Aaron Donald), and some don’t (Amari Cooper, Frank Clark).
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To get the picture, Howard need look no further than his very own contract. He was made the NFL’s highest paid cornerback after one season of elite production. It’s fine to take issue with your pay gap, but keep it internal.
I’ve got to think this sort of thing irks Flores, as it runs counter to the team-first ethos he’s worked so hard to create. Even though it has come out that the Dolphins have told Howard they aren’t going to trade him, they wouldn’t be doing their due diligence by not at least hearing offers.
Howard said in the post that he signed an extension that he “didn’t completely understand, or feel comfortable with”. Of course, contract negotiations are confusing, but that’s an issue to take up with his former agent, not the franchise. And again, they made him the highest paid corner, with an average annual salary of $15 million.
Nothing that I’ve heard or read about coach Flores in two-plus seasons strikes me as “bad faith” in any way. This insinuates underhanded behavior. The Dolphins have no impetus to accept Howard and Canter’s proposals. It’s not bad faith, just business.