Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard confirmed he requested a trade from Miami in an Instagram post Tuesday night.
Howard’s a talented enough player — 2020 All-Pro, two-time Pro Bowler — that his departure from Miami would have a noteworthy impact on the rest of the AFC East. The New England Patriots, of course, would be among those impacted.
And Howard’s trade request is somewhat two-fold.
1. If traded, the Patriots wouldn’t have to go up against an All-Pro cornerback twice a season.
This is undoubtedly the biggest takeaway from Howard’s decision. After all, it’s fair to say the Dolphins have the best combination of cornerbacks in the division with Howard and Byron Jones. Both are among the highest-paid corners on the market, and both have been productive throughout their NFL careers. Howard, specifically, recorded 10 interceptions and 20 passes defensed during his most recent 2020 season. Both were career highs as he played 16 games for the first time since his sophomore season in the league.
And while Howard, 28, hasn’t had the career success against the Patriots — don’t forget Tom Brady departed just one year ago — he is one of the league’s best at the position. The Patriots, simply, would benefit from not having to go up against him twice each season. Howard has recorded a pair of interceptions and one forced fumble in eight career games against the Patriots. Miami is, however, 2-6 against New England with Howard on the field as he was limited to five games in 2019 and 12 in 2018.
2. Could the Patriots be among teams who reach out about trading for Howard?
You must have thought about it, right?
Howard’s trade request ironically comes at the same time the Patriots have been in a contract stare down with one of their own: Stephon Gilmore. And while Gilmore, who is owed a base salary of $7 million entering the 2021 season, currently is cheaper that Howard, the latter is a few years younger. Howard reportedly was hoping to renegotiate his contract with the Dolphins, which ultimately led to the trade demand. He remains under contract for four seasons after a five-year, $75.3 million contract extension started last year. He also currently has reasonable cap numbers with a cap hit of $13.5 million in 2021, $14.4 in 2022, $13.4 in 2023 and $12.3 in 2024. Of course, a re-worked contract, which it seems Howard is hoping for, could influence those a bit.
Is it a bit far-fetched to think the Patriots and Dolphins would swap Gilmore for Howard? Well, maybe. But it could help both teams solve their respective issues and crazier things have happened.