NFL

Dolphins cornerback Howard requests trade

By Sports Desk July 28, 2021

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard has requested a trade, saying he does not feel "valued or respected" by the team.

Two-time Pro Bowler Howard reported to training camp on Tuesday but is unhappy that his contract has not been reworked.

The 28-year-old is just two years into the five-year, $75million extension that he signed in 2019. 

At the time that made him the highest-paid NFL corner but he is due a salary of $12m this year, $2m less than his fellow Miami corner Byron Jones.

Jones was signed in a big free agent deal last year, agreeing terms on a five-year, $82.5m pact to lure him from the Dallas Cowboys.

Howard does not feel the difference is fair after his recent performances which included a fine 2020 season.

Last year he was named a first-team All-Pro after recording 10 interceptions for the improving Dolphins, who finished 10-6 for their joint-best record since they last won the AFC East in 2008.

While Howard is not seeking a new deal, he has requested changes to the existing contract that he says have not been agreed by Miami.

"I don't feel valued, or respected, by the Dolphins," Howard, who has recently changed agents, said in a statement. 

"I've played on that deal for two seasons and didn't complain, but everyone knows I completely outperformed that deal.

"I'm one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and the tape backs up that claim. Yet, I'm the second highest paid cornerback on my own team, and it's not even close.

"We wanted to work things out with the Dolphins and brought solutions to the table – like guaranteeing more money – that we felt were win-wins for both sides.

"But the Dolphins refused everything we proposed.

"Just like they can take a business-first approach, so can I. That's 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 has spent his whole career with Miami since being drafted in the second round back in 2016.

He was a second-team All Pro in 2018, which was a year where – like in 2020 – he led the NFL in interceptions and made the Pro Bowl.

A memorable season

With 10 interceptions and 20 passes defended, Howard recorded two career highs in those headline statistics.

Per Stats Perform advanced data, Howard's adjusted open percentage – which measures how frequently an opponent got open against a defender's coverage, adjusted for position – was 25.19, almost a full percentage point better than that of Jones (26.16) in 2020.

When it comes to burns – when a receiver wins his matchup on a play where he is targeted regardless of whether the pass is catchable – Howard also had a significant edge in burn yards per target.

Though Howard was not exactly impressive in that category either, giving up an average of 11.12 while playing on the outside, that number is likely more reflective of how often the Dolphins left him in single coverage.

Indeed, Howard's average depth of target of 14.5 yards speaks to the frequency with which he was given the task of staying in tight coverage with a receiver downfield.

The Dolphins are not flush with cap room but, in a year where the team will be expected to make a year-three leap under head coach Brian Flores, Howard was expected to be key.

With a league-leading 18 interceptions over the past three seasons, Howard is a playmaker the Dolphins need on the field and motivated if they are to challenge in the AFC, so the team's response will be closely watched.

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