There’s little question that Xavien Howard is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. He had 10 — TEN — interceptions last season. He’s a corner any team would be lucky to have. Fortunately for Dolphins fans, he’s theirs, in theory, until after the 2024 season. He is, however, not real happy.
Howard signed his new contract before the 2019 season, and now that the portion of his contract that gives him the most guarantees has ended, he wants more money. Howard is not at mandatory minicamp, meaning he’s now in a holdout.
“It’s pretty clear this is a contract situation, which we’ve talked about internally,” Head Coach Brian Flores said. “X is a little bit of a unique situation. He was extended and now we’re talking about a potential renegotiation after one year. Those turn into longer conversations. We understand that. We’ve obviously had a lot of talks and conversations about that and we’ll continue to have those and keep them internal, but it’s a very unique conversation.”
After one year.
“It’s honestly something that hasn’t been done before,” Flores said. “Not saying we’re drawing a line in the sand, but different players set the market every year.”
I understand that by the nature of how contracts are designed in the NFL, players often assume much more risk than their employers. I understand that Howard’s contract is not guaranteed past 2021, except for a $6.775 million injury-only guarantee for 2022. Yes, it is much more favorable for the Dolphins, who will then control the rights to Howard essentially on a year-to-year basis beginning in 2022.
However, this is the contract that Howard accepted and signed only one year ago. I have a problem with that. If he didn’t want to play under the contract that he has, then he shouldn’t have taken it. He could have played under his prior contract for one more year, then used the franchise tag figure as a baseline for negotiations. But he didn’t. He signed a contract, and now he wants to negotiate after one season of great play.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a free marketplace where Howard and other athletes can shop their services during an open enrollment period once per year. There will always be a tension and a struggle between what teams want and what players want, but threatening a holdout after one season feels awfully petulant.
Show up and play, Howard. Especially with next year’s cap set to increase potentially by over $25 million next season, maybe that would be a better time to prove your worth and try and restructure your contract, if you’re hellbent on doing so.