The Xavien Howard era in Miami may be nearing its end. On Tuesday evening, the star cornerback took to social media to formally announce that he has requested a trade from the Dolphins amid a contract dispute. In the lengthy statement, Howard explained his side of the situation, saying that he feels he is underpaid as one of the better cornerbacks that the NFL has to offer.
“I’ve given my heart and soul to the Miami Dolphins franchise since they drafted me in 2016, and want to make it clear that I love my teammates,” Howard’s statement reads. “They are my family. But what I’ve learned is that the business side of the NFL proves organizations don’t always have a player’s best interest at heart. My experience with the Dolphins the past few seasons has taught me that.
“In 2018, I signed an extension that I’ll admit I didn’t completely understand, or feel comfortable with. I’ve played on that deal for two seasons and didn’t complain, but everyone knows I’ve significantly outperformed that deal. I’m one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and the tape backs up that claim. The assignments I’m given, shadowing the opposition’s best player with little help, proves my value, my worth. Yet, I’m the second highest-paid cornerback on my own team, and it’s not even close.
Please check the opt-in box to acknowledge that you would like to subscribe.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
“I want to clear up a few misconceptions about my situation. My agent David Canter and I have never once asked for a completely new contract. We wanted things to work out with the Dolphins, and brought solutions to the table — like guaranteeing more money — that we felt were win-wins for both sides. These were proposals of adjustments that wouldn’t just make me feel more respected, but were also cap friendly. But the Dolphins refused everything we proposed.
“That is why I don’t feel the organization has dealt with me in good faith. I don’t feel valued or respected by the Dolphins. Just like they take a business-first approach, so can I. That is why I want to make it clear I’m not happy, and have requested a trade. Until that trade happens, I am just here so I don’t get fined, and will handle myself like professionals do.”
Howard’s final note in his trade request is a nod to the All-Pro corner arriving at Dolphins training camp earlier on Tuesday, electing to participate instead of being fined amid a holdout. The 28-year-old held out of mandatory minicamp earlier this summer, taking the fine of $93,000.
All this, as Howard highlights in his statement, is about wanting a revised contract. Currently, he has an average annual salary of $15,050,000, making him the sixth-highest-paid cornerback in the NFL. That stems from a five-year, $75.25 million extension he signed with the Dolphins in 2019.
While that may seem like a quick turnaround to ask for a new deal, Howard does highlight a solid case. He’s coming off an All-Pro season in 2020 where he led the NFL with 10 interceptions and 20 passes defended. Howard also held opposing quarterbacks to 30.3 passer rating when targeted. Dating to 2017, he’s recorded the most interceptions in the league (22).
That certainly merits considerations for a pay bump, especially considering he’s the second-highest-paid corner on his team. In March 2020, the Dolphins signed Bryon Jones to a five-year, $82 million, which made him the league’s highest-paid corner at the time. Given that Howard has outproduced Jones, there’s a solid case to be made to bring his AAV to a more respectable number.
If the Dolphins concede to Howard’s trade request, it will be fascinating to see what they’ll be able to fetch for him. Given that teams will also need to give him a revised contract upon acquiring him, the haul Miami may be looking at may not be as lucrative compared to the talent walking out the door.