Report: Xavien Howard ‘dug in’ for pay raise over Dolphins extensions

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The Miami Dolphins’ current contract standoff with star cornerback Xavien Howard appears to be turning into quite the bumpy ride. Miami, who paid Howard a hefty sum in the summer of 2019 when they made him the highest paid cornerback in football, has four years remaining on the original contract extension with Howard — who has quickly seen his compensation fall down the ranks of cornerbacks across the league as new deals have been signed.

And he’s not happy about it.

So much so that Howard is reportedly weighing out all of his options for how to proceed from here; including potentially asking for a trade. But as Howard mulls how to try to prompt the Dolphins to meet his wishes or otherwise send him somewhere else that will, he’s reportedly taking note of the business the Dolphins are taking care of instead of readdressing his 2019 extension. A report from this week via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald indicates that Howard is seeing other Miami Dolphins, including kicker Jason Sanders and now linebacker Jerome Baker, get contract extensions and that is only adding more fuel to Howard’s fire in his search for a new deal.

“Xavien Howard remains adamant about getting more money. The fact others have received new deals (including Jason Sanders, nothing personal) has made him even more dug in. If he doesn’t get a new deal with more money, this could stretch well into August.” — Barry Jackson, Miami Herald

Uh oh.

Howard is well within his right to aspire to be compensated as a top cornerback in football after logging 10 interceptions this past season. Howard was dominant and, at 28 years old next month with a shaky history of knee injuries, his window to maximize his peak is dwindling. But to keep inventory on what other teammates received new deals of their own and using that as ammunition for the argument for a new deal isn’t likely going to play well with a Dolphins team that showed Howard good faith in the contract they did sign him to in 2019. That contract, at the time, as considered something of a risk as Howard had missed the final 4 games of the 2018 season as the team fell apart.

The Dolphins have expressed in the past how much they covet team-oriented players. When Brian Flores first got to Miami, he made headlines by talking about how he views star players versus team players.

“It’s a team game. Stars are kind of a ‘me’ thing. I don’t — I guess I’m not — it’s a team game. There are 11 guys out there and they have to work together,” said Flores, clearly nixing himself from saying he’s not a fan of stars.

“If you have a star that wants to do his own thing, that just doesn’t work. I’m of the ‘put the team first’ mantra and these so-called ‘stars’ need to be on that page on this team. Hopefully that answers your question.” — Brian Flores, August 2019

And, to Howard’s credit, Flores has referred to Howard as a team player as recently as earlier this month during minicamp.

“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,” said Flores.

“He’s an important player on this team; but again, (it’s a) unique situation. We want to keep him here.”

Maybe so. But if Howard is indeed fueling his argument with management for a new deal with Miami’s other contract extensions, that certainly doesn’t qualify as putting the team first. Quite the contrary. And depending on how hard Howard pushes that point home, it may end up making the Dolphins’ decision on how to handle this standoff for them.