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To Pay or Not to Pay: Xavien Howard

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Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) celebrates after making an interception against the Pittsburgh Steelers in an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

With less than two weeks to go before the kickoff of training camp, the Miami Dolphins find themselves to be in a long staredown with All-Pro Cornerback Xavien Howard.

After signing a 5 yr/$75.25 million dollar contract in May 2019, Howard has decided not to show up to OTA’s and is looking for a “significant increase” after he lead the NFL in 2020 with 10 interceptions.

My first thought after hearing that X wanted an extension was simply “Pay the Man” but then I realized that might not be THIS regime’s way.

There’s no doubting that Flores and Grier resigned Howard at a bargain. The former 2nd round pick was happy to be rewarded his first extension. He even bought his mother a house with the money.

However, after realizing that the deal was a team friendly, front-loaded contract, Howard has decided not to show at OTA’s until a new deal is done.

It’s highly likely that X is looking to become the highest paid corner in the NFL or he’s out. The problem is that he and teammate Byron Jones represent 2 out of the 5 highest paid CB’s in the NFL.

So if you’re Miami what do you do? The current regime has been working diligently to keep the cap friendly while inheriting draft picks, the way it should be done. Maybe Flores foresaw this when he and Grier drafted Noah Igbinoghene/Jevon Holland and signed Byron Jones, Justin Coleman, and Jason McCourty.

It made me think of Bill Belichick’s motto: Next Man Up. The New England way is that no player is bigger than the team. If you sign on the dotted line, you can’t always ask for a mulligan. Flores and Grier (both ex-Patriots) know this. They traded Tunsil in what might’ve been the best move in team history. Traded Minkah Fitzpatrick because he wanted to play ONE not multiple positions in Flo’s defense.

Meanwhile, Miami is projected to have the 6th lowest cap in 2022. They’re also one of the youngest rosters in the NFL and coming off a 10-win season.

Still, the question here is: To pay or not to pay?

Flores and Grier have a vision and one player isn’t going to stop the train. I’d talk it out with X. Explain that he should play out this season and then restructure in the off-season of 2022. If he refuses, then simply unload him for a first and/or multiple picks. An all-pro corner is hard to find in today’s NFL. His 10 ints and most since 2017 (21) can only drive the bargain up.

Miami will once again be sitting on two first round picks in the 2022 and 2023 draft.

That’s how you build without the distractions.