It didn’t take long for Xavien Howard to attract the attention of teams interested in acquiring the All-Pro cornerback. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, two 2020 playoff teams — among others — contacted about a trade for Howard less than 24 hours after he formally demanded a trade out of Miami.
Xavien Howard Asks The Dolphins for a Trade: There Are Five Likely Destinations for The All-Pro Cornerback.
Howard, who is 28 years old, would be a valuable addition to any defense. The former second-round pick led the NFL in interceptions on two occasions, including a career-high ten picks in 2020. Howard also had a league-high 20 pass breakups to help Miami have the best third-down defense in the league. Howard’s talents, though, would come at a high cost, since he is only four years into a five-year, $75.25 million contract extension. Despite the fact that he clearly does not want to continue playing under his present contract, Howard stated on Tuesday that he is not seeking an entirely new contract.
“We wanted things to work out with the Dolphins, so we brought options to the table that we felt were win-wins for both sides,” Howard said in a statement issued via Twitter. “These were suggestions for changes that would not only make me feel more valued, but also be cap friendly. The Dolphins, on the other hand, turned down everything we offered.” The Dolphins have yet to publicly state if they intend to approve Howard’s trade request, despite the fact that he was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice. If the Dolphins do decide to trade him, here are five potential destinations that would be beneficial to all parties involved.
Arizona is dealing with a trade request of their own, as former All-Pro pass rusher Chandler Jones wants to leave the desert. While it’s unknown whether the Cardinals will move Jones, doing so would clear a lot of cap money for them. The Cardinals might potentially package Jones in a deal to acquire Howard, who would fill a significant vacancy in Arizona’s secondary following Patrick Peterson’s offseason departure. The Cardinals would have a powerful defensive backfield with Howard, cornerback Malcolm Butler, and safety Budda Baker, among others. Howard’s addition could be enough to pull the Cardinals over the hump after missing the playoffs last season.
The Seahawks, like their NFC West rivals, have problems at cornerback after parting ways with Shaquill Griffin this offseason. Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, both Pro Bowl safeties, would join Howard in Seattle. After a relatively quiet summer, the move would also send a message to Russell Wilson that the Seahawks are serious about challenging for a title in 2021.
The largest stumbling block in this circumstance is trade equity. When Seattle acquired Adams from New York, it gave up its first-round pick in 2022. If the Seahawks were to sign Howard, they would also have to make significant salary cap modifications.
Kansas City Chiefs
Following Patrick Mahomes’ transformation into Fran Tarkenton in Super Bowl LV, the Chiefs overhauled their offensive line. And, despite the lack of a pressing need, the Chiefs did little to enhance a secondary that was outmatched by Tom Brady in last year’s Super Bowl. The addition of Howard would solidify Kansas City’s position as the favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl once again. If the Chiefs are serious in acquiring Howard, they must first extend Tyrann Mathieu’s contract, which may free up as much as $7 million in salary cap room.
With first-round pick Caleb Farley now on the team’s physically unable to perform list, Tennessee may use some help at cornerback (PUP). Howard would provide the Titans the luxury of not having to hurry Farley onto the field, in addition to gaining one of the league’s best cornerbacks.
Howard and Janoris Jenkins, two seasoned cornerbacks, would join Farley and 2020 second-round pick Kristian Fulton on the Titans’ defense. The Titans have future draft equity to make this deal work, but adjusting their present salary cap situation would be the true difficulty (they are 21st in the league in available cap space).
New Orleans Saints
Despite a slew of offseason changes, the Saints remain optimistic about their chances in 2021. New Orleans would be wise to pursue Howard while addressing their significant need at cornerback in order to make that optimism a reality. Not only would acquiring Howard boost the Saints’ chances of making the playoffs in 2021, but it would also give them the option of allowing fellow cornerback Marshon Lattimore to leave next offseason.
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