The Miami Dolphins may need to appease cornerback Xavien Howard again ahead of the 2022 season and that could be a problem.
In 2021, the Dolphins faced a mounting problem with their starting CB, Xavien Howard. The problems began early in the off-season when Howard stayed away from all off-season workouts. As camp opened up, Howard showed up but quickly was injured and couldn’t practice.
Howard’s saga played out daily with questions to Brian Flores. Flores answered regularly that the Dolphins wanted Howard on the team. In the end, the Dolphins guaranteed portions of his contract and moved around enough money to make Howard the top paid player on the roster. That placated the star corner but was it enough to keep him happy ahead of the 2022 season?
There hasn’t been much speculation on the topic and there have been no rumors but Howard isn’t the highest paid player on the roster this year. He is about $100K short of Byron Jones. He is coming off another Pro Bowl nomination and while his 2021 season was far from his 2020 season, he was still very productive and a key in the Dolphins defense.
Now, Dolphins fans are wondering if the Howards saga will continue this off-season. As the 2021 season came to an end, Howard posted a simple picture on one of his social media accounts. The image was him waving while walking off the field. Nothing else was said. Was it a prelude to this off-season or simply a good-bye to last season?
Time will tell on this one but if I were a betting man, I would put my money on Howard not being happy and the Dolphins being put in a position to give him more money, a new contract, and more than likely both. The bigger problem though is some believe that Howard doesn’t want to be in Miami. That he wants to play somewhere else and if that is indeed a fact, Miami needs to move on.
Howard is under contract for the next three seasons. This year he will count $16.3 million against the cap. In 2023, that number drops to $15.3 million, and in 2024, his cap number is $14.1 million.
In all three seasons, Howard is being paid less than Jones who will make $16.4, $16.2, and $16.1 million. If Howard stays and continues to make the Pro Bowl, this is going to be a problem and we can’t deny that.
Howard’s numbers are not exactly team friendly and the Dolphins will have to eat a big portion of his money if he is traded or released which won’t happen. In 2022, the Dolphins would eat all but $3 million. It becomes far easier for Miami to move on in 2023 when that number increases to $11 million in savings and only $3.9 million in dead money. 2024 keeps the money in Miami’s hands. $12 million in savings and only $1.2 million dead.
The Dolphins may have to rework his contract this year, the final year of the contract that is in Howard’s favor. He will likely want more guaranteed money this year or a change to the deal that gives him more money guaranteed next year. It is unlikely that Howard would take a restructure that pushes money into next year but he would be smart to do so if he does want to stay in Miami. It might financially benefit him in the long run.
For now, it’s a waiting game but if last year was any indication, the Dolphins should at least be prepared for another problem with Howard this off-season.