Xavien Howard unhappy with Miami Dolphins contract: 3 trade scenarios for star cornerback

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard is reportedly unhappy with his contract, which could ultimately trigger a trade.

ESPN.com insider Jeremy Fowler wrote an extensive piece on Wednesday detailing prominent NFL players who could potentially be on the move amid an era of numerous trades. Howard made the cut, with Fowler writing, “It’s the worst-kept secret in the league that Howard is not happy with his contract.”

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few trade scenarios where the Dolphins could part with the first-team All-Pro and feel good about the compensation they receive in return.

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3 ideal Xavien Howard trade scenarios

Xavien Howard to Arizona Cardinals

Xavien Howard to Arizona Cardinals
Nov 8, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) breaks up a pass for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) during the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
  • Cardinals get: CB Xavien Howard
  • Dolphins get: EDGE Chandler Jones

Trading someone like Howard, who just had 10 interceptions in 2020, is never easy. If a deal does come to pass, though, you can bet the Fins will do what they can to keep him out of the AFC.

Kicking things off here, it feels like the Arizona Cardinals have a surplus on their front seven between their past two first-round picks in Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins and prized free agent J.J. Watt.

Chandler Jones began his career with the New England Patriots, where Miami head coach Brian Flores served as an assistant. Therefore, Jones has an obvious, innate familiarity with the Dolphins’ system and would seamlessly fit in if he were to land in Miami.

Trade rumors are circling around Jones, as Fowler mentioned him in the ESPN.com piece, and he’s in the midst of a contract year. Over the Cap projects the Dolphins to have $66 million in 2022 cap space as of now, so that’s plenty of room to re-sign Jones to a lucrative new contract.

Howard is someone who would absolutely transform the Cardinals’ defensive backfield and help them hang tough in the highly competitive NFC West.

Xavien Howard to Minnesota Vikings

Xavien Howard to Minnesota Vikings
Dec 13, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) celebrates after his interception with free safety Brandon Jones (29) during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
  • Vikings get: CB Xavien Howard
  • Dolphins get: EDGE Danielle Hunter

This is another really fun one-for-one player trade that’d have huge benefits for both sides. For the Minnesota Vikings, they’d acquire another exceptional cornerback in Howard to pair opposite Patrick Peterson in a secondary that also features Harrison Smith.

Granted, that’s not the most youthful group, yet the Vikings’ cornerback depth isn’t great. They need to get better on the outside in order to have a bounce-back 2021 in that area after allowing 7.9 yards per attempt last season.

As for Miami, it’d be getting a premier pass-rusher in Danielle Hunter who’s disgruntled with his contract and overall situation in Minnesota. The Dolphins need a game-changing player on the edge, which is precisely what Hunter is. They won’t need to deploy blitzes as often to get pressure, and can be more schematically versatile with someone of Hunter’s caliber in the lineup.

Both players make just over $12 million in 2021, and each team will ultimately have the means to pay these premier defenders what they want and give them the fresh starts they’re hoping for.

Xavien Howard to Seattle Seahawks

Xavien Howard to Seattle Seahawks
Oct 4, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) celebrates after intercepting a pass intended for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Think about it this way: The Dolphins have San Francisco’s 2022 first-round pick, as well as the Niners’ 2023 first-rounder. They gave their own 2022 Round 1 choice to Philadelphia, but if not picking in the first round over the next two years meant Miami could get Russell Wilson, you can bet the team would be all over that.

It’s quite possible that Tua Tagovailoa proves to be the Fins’ franchise QB, but there’s very little chance he’s as successful as Wilson. That’s not so much a knock on Tagovailoa as it is an indication of just how special Wilson is.

The Dolphins have been unable to stabilize the most important position in sports since Dan Marino retired. They’ve had a revolving door and perpetual underwhelming performance. Tagovailoa didn’t look the part as a rookie while other classmates like Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert shined.

You can bet Miami will be down to let Wilson air it out as much as he likes, whereas Tagovailoa would fit in better with Seattle’s run-first offense and overall conservatism, benefiting from elite weapons at receiver in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.

This trade seems admittedly a little less likely given that Wilson seems to have patched things up with the Seahawks for the time being. Then again, who says no to this offer? Seattle’s maligned defense would definitely benefit from having Howard, and three first-round picks would give the Seahawks a chance to build around Tagovailoa while he’s on a rookie contract.

Or, if Tagovailoa were to flop, Seattle would have plenty of ammunition to land Wilson’s eventual successor by any means necessary.