What’s Next for Former Dolphins CB Xavien Howard? Texans, Raiders, Rams Among Potential Suitors

Xavien Howard's time with the Miami Dolphins will come to an end next month. A free agent for the first time in his career, where should Howard sign?

Xavien Howard’s eight-year run with the Miami Dolphins will come to an end. The Dolphins have informed Howard that he will be released when the new NFL league year begins in mid-March; Omar Kelly of Sports Illustrated was the first to report.

Where does Howard fit in with the 2024 free agent cornerback class, and which teams might interested in the veteran defensive back when the market opens?

Xavien Howard Landing Spots Following Dolphins Release

The Dolphins will likely designate Howard as a post-June 1 cut, allowing them to spread his dead money over the next two seasons. Miami will absorb $7.4 million in 2024 before taking on more than $15 million in dead money in 2025.

A four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Howard has been banged up in recent seasons but appeared in at least 13 games from 2020 through 2023. However, he intercepted just two passes over the past two years, and Miami no longer felt he was worth a $15+ million salary.

Cornerback isn’t among the strongest positional groups in 2024 free agency. Jaylon Johnson and L’Jarius Sneed, the top two CBs on PFN’s board, could be franchised by the Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively.

Howard, 31, will compete for a contract with Kendall Fuller, Chidobe Awuzie, Stephon Gilmore, and others next month. Where are his best landing spots around the NFL?

Houston Texans

Howard is a Houston native who attended college at Baylor. He might jump at the chance to return to his hometown and join an up-and-coming roster that won the AFC South in 2023 with a first-team head coach (DeMeco Ryans) and a rookie quarterback (C.J. Stroud).

The Texans have nearly $70 million in cap space to work with this offseason, so affording Howard won’t be a problem. Fellow CB Steven Nelson is a pending free agent, meaning Houston needs a replacement to play alongside former No. 3 overall pick Derek Stingley Jr.

Las Vegas Raiders

Although the Raiders’ pass defense played surprisingly well in 2023, the unit could look different next season. Veteran Marcus Peters was released in November after making 12 starts. Amik Robertson played 675 defensive snaps last year but is a pending free agent.

With Jack Jones penciled in at one perimeter spot and Nate Hobbs playing the slot, Las Vegas may need another outside cornerback. Howard could give the Raiders a veteran option and might only command a one-year deal, allowing Vegas to spend its resources elsewhere.

Minnesota Vikings

Howard’s best campaign — a 10-interception season that earned him DPOY votes — came under then-Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who now serves as the Vikings’ defensive coordinator. Could a reunion be in order?

Minnesota could play Byron Murphy Jr. primarily in the slot if it signed Howard to play opposite Akayleb Evans. The Vikings are expected to release Harrison Smith this offseason, affecting their ability to deploy their preferred three-safety sets. A move to a traditional package could work with Howard on the outside.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams hit paydirt when they signed veteran CB Akhello Witherspoon to a one-year deal in 2023. The journeyman defensive back was more than serviceable, giving Los Angeles an experienced option alongside young corners like Cobie Durant, Quentin Lake, and Derion Kendrick.

With more cap space available this season, the Rams could consider upgrading, even if they still want to stick with a one-year deal. Howard might be interested in playing on an exciting LA team rife with talented, youthful defenders.

Washington Commanders

Washington allowed 63 more points than any team in the NFL and finished dead last in pass defense DVOA. Dan Quinn and the rest of the Commanders’ decision-makers should be contemplating any and all additions on the defensive side of the ball.

KEEP READING: 2024 NFL Free Agents, Ranked

With the most cap space in the league, Washington can afford essentially any player it wants. The Commanders might want to give more time to CBs Emmanuel Forbes and Benjamin St-Juste (both under 26 years old), but Howard would represent an immediate improvement.

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