Back in February I put an article about an oncoming hurricane about reports of Xavien Howard wanting a new contract after last season’s double digit interception heroics, and now here we are in August with the contract saga now over, for now.
With X getting more performance incentive bonuses, roughly $3.5 Million worth, and $6.775 Million of his 2022 salary being fully guaranteed at signing, it is good to see that common sense has prevailed and a deal has been struck out. However, be wary as apparently there are assurances “that a new deal in February/early March in line with market based on health and 2021 performance” will be struck out according to Ian Rapoport via Twitter, so we couldn’t blame you for being slightly cautious or getting the popcorn out again to see if the contract saga rears its ugly head again.
Whilst we wait for more details to come out about the in depth parts of the restructured contract to come out, there are somethings that shouldn’t be forgotten about. Let’s start when this all kicked off on 28th July when Xavien Howard himself posted this on his Instagram account:
HOWARD SAGA WILL RETURN
Now let’s be clear, this isn’t the first instance he has done this. July 13th this year he posted a quote on his Instagram stories saying “They won’t realize how big a part you play… until you’re not there to play it no mo”. This could be anything, a disgruntled relationship, or just letting off some steam, but wait there is more! March 16th 2020. NFL free agency period. Miami signed cornerback Byron Jones and Xavien Howard scrubbed everything Miami related off his Instagram, and left all of two posts. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! Then Noah Igbinoghene gets drafted. Howard is quoted on saying that he felt insulted by the decision to draft Noah Igbo when making an appearance with Darius Butler & Antoine Bethea.
Furthermore, if we look into his statement he mentions that he isn’t the highest paid cornerback on the team and it isn’t even close. Byron Jones is on $16.5 Million a year, and even with the incentives, he can only make a maximum of $16.2 Million this year, maybe he didn’t know what he was signing again? So forgive me in thinking that this probably isn’t the last we will hear of his antics.
We’ve heard of his actions, and what that of Miami and their front office and their actions? When asked in the media Coach Flores repeatedly said that Howard is a Dolphin and wants something to get sorted out and that they do not want to trade X, and rightfully so. Looking from training camp reports of Noah Igbinoghene not taking a big step forward in the cornerback role, and the next boundary corner being Jason McCourty, there is a steep drop off in talent in a team looking to make the playoffs this year and aiming for double digit wins, so from the outside looking in, you could argue that they caved into player pressure. Furthermore, there is no denying Howard’s outright ball hawking talent and ability to turn momentum and a game on its head, a trait that definitely will be valuable this season and for the next few to come.
However, Miami held all the cards in this deal with a long-term contract being signed, and only playing 2 years of it, and reports of teams, such as the Eagles enquiring about Xavien Howard, they could have easily gotten some good value for him and moved on, get his money, and no one could have blamed them. Come February/March time, this could come back around in their favour again in negotiations. What could this contract look like in February/March?
With how Miami has recently made contract negotiations, ruthlessly cutting Kyle Van Noy, getting McKinney to take less money and move to what is essentially a 1 year prove it deal. This could be Miami’s shot in getting a better “get out of contract free card”, especially if performances, health and maybe even social media antics are bad. This may also give the appearance of a final big lucrative contract for Howard before he bows out, and give time to see if first round draft pick Igbinoghene makes the leap most fans expect and want him to take.
All we know for sure is that as of now, Xavien Howard remains a Miami Dolphin, and that is definitely a good thing for team performance this season, and with Coach Flores’ defensive scheme, it definitely one that will benefit Howard. However, with Flores team first mentality and mantra it remains to be seen if this saga is good for the team in the long term and if he will be a team first player and put his ego to one side.