Star cornerback Xavien Howard has reported to Miami Dolphins training camp, avoiding the steep fines that would have come with a holdout.
The Dolphins posted a video to social media of Howard greeting wide receiver Jakeem Grant as he arrived to report for his sixth NFL season at the new Dolphins’ state-of-the-art practice facility.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) July 27, 2021
Xavien Howard will be at the first Miami Dolphins training camp practice on Wednesday
In doing so, they subtly made some news: Their best player (but second-highest-paid cornerback) was back in the fold.
Dolphins coach Brian Flores addressed reporters Tuesday morning ahead of the team’s first scheduled training camp practice Wednesday at the Baptist Health Training Complex in Miami Gardens. Howard’s decision to report was of course a topic of conversation.
The last time Flores spoke with reporters, he had to address Howard’s decision to skip minicamp — a silent protest that cost him roughly $90,000 in fines. But the stakes would have gone way up if he held out of camp: $50,000 for each day missed.
That’s a huge sum, even for Howard, who’s owed $12 million in base salary this year. He wants a contract correction that will put him more in line with his production. Howard tied the franchise record with 10 interceptions last year in the regular season and was a first-team All-Pro for the first time and a 2021 Pro Bowl starter.
Flores, when asked directly Tuesday if the team would adjust Howard’s contract to satisfy his concerns, declined to say.
“We’re excited to work with X and all the players that are here,” Flores said. “Those conversations, his representation, Chris [Grier], myself, those like always are going to be internal, confidential and we’ll keep it that way for all players. We’re excited to have him, I’m excited to work with him. He’s a great player.”
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Will the Dolphins trade Xavien Howard?
There’s been some under-the-radar chatter that the Dolphins might be open to trading Howard, but if that is a consideration, General Manager Chris Grier has not yet been blown away by an offer.
New Orleans Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson caused a stir last week when he posted a cryptic tweet that suggested Howard might join a loaded Saints secondary that includes Malcolm Jenkins and Marcus Williams.
“It’s very unique,” Flores said of Howard’s situation during minicamp. “It’s a renegotiation of an extension after one year, and it’s honestly something that hasn’t been done before. I’m not saying that we’re drawing a line in the sand, but different players set the market every year.
“We love ‘X.’ Let me go ahead and say that right now, so you guys can make sure you write that. We love him. He’s very productive. He’s a team player. He’s an important player on this team; but again, [it’s a] unique situation. We want to keep him here. Again, markets are set. Specific to Byron [Jones], markets are set differently every year. Yeah, that’s a part of the conversation; but again, that’s what makes this unique, like I mentioned, which I’m sure everyone can understand.”
Howard has had an impressive NFL career thus far
Howard has had an extremely impressive NFL career with the Dolphins. Over his career, he has 22 interceptions in 55 starts, with 55 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles, and 191 combined tackles. In two of the last three seasons, he has led the league in interceptions. Over the course of his last 32 games, he has an incredible 18 interceptions. On top of that, he also led the league in passes defended last season with 20.
Those numbers stand out all by themselves, but Howard’s advanced defensive numbers are also impressive. Pro Football Reference only has stats for the past three seasons, but in the two seasons where he played double-digit games, he has a completion percentage allowed below 52.5 percent. In those two seasons, he has allowed just 85 completions from 164 targets.
That said, some on the outside have remarked that Howard can be susceptible to allowing opposing touchdowns. In his last 32 games, he has been credited with allowing 12 touchdowns. Additionally, he has 15 missed tackles in the past three seasons.
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