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The Top Suitors For Dolphins All-Pro CB Xavien Howard After His Trade Request

Dolphins Pro Bowl, All-Pro Cornerback Xavien Howard is a baller. He was my #25 player on my Top 100 List that just came out. He follows teams best WRs and he led the NFL in interceptions with 10, which is tied for the most in a single season since 1981. Additionally, Howard had a remarkable 20 PBUs last season. What I'm getting at is that he's always around the football. So when he publicly requested a trade, it was pretty big news.

Howard was a 2nd round pick out of Baylor in 2016. He got a few starts his first season, but earned the full-time starting gig in Year 2. He had a strong year with 4 INTs (including 1 TD) and 13 PBUs. He followed it up in 2018 by earning his 1st Pro Bowl selection with 7 INTs and 12 PBUs in just 12 games. Howard signed a 5-year $75.25M contract the following summer, which at the time made him the highest paid CB in the NFL.

Howard had a rough 2019 while battling a knee injury. He tried to play through it but reaggravated it and went on IR after appearing in just five games. Running a system that relies on it's Cornerbacks and having an influx of cash, Miami went shopping during Free Agency last season and signed CB Byron Jones from the Cowboys for a 5-year $82.5M contract. That apparently didn't sit well with Howard who makes a mention of not even being the highest paid CB on his own team in his note.

At the moment, Howard is the 6th highest paid CB in the league on a per year basis making $15.05M annually. He trails only Jalen Ramsey ($20M), Marlon Humphrey ($19.5M), Tre' White ($17.25M), Darius Slay ($16.68M), and his teammate Byron Jones ($16.25M). Now I can respect Howard trying to get things done behind the scenes, but all the guys in front of him signed deals after him. And the thing about guys getting paid in the NFL, it's all about timing.

But let's go along with this request and assume Xavien Howard is going to get dealt, where will he end up? Here are my top suitors:

Teams Looking To Win Now

Arizona Cardinals - This one probably makes the most sense on paper. They've got a big star on their own team that's requested a trade in Chandler Jones that plays a position (EDGE) that Miami needs help in. Jones is coming off a biceps injury that ended his season after just five games, but prior to that, he had five straight seasons with double digit sacks. They drafted Jaelen Phillips, but he's a project and opposite him they've got Emmanuel Ogbah who has flashed, but is not someone you'd want to rely on week in and week out. But if the Cardinals are seriously going all in with this veteran laden squad which includes new, older acquisitions like J.J. Watt, Rodney Hudson, and A.J. Green, making an aggressive move for Howard is the play.

Pittsburgh Steelers - The last time the Steelers traded for a player in the Dolphins secondary, it worked out really well with Minkah Fitzpatrick. Why not run it back?? Pittsburgh cut ties with CB Steven Nelson this past off-season in a surprising move. They've still got Joe Haden, but he's 32 years old. Opposite him they've got Justin Layne, but he's J.A.G. (just a guy). With the Steel City's pass rush led by T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward, adding another ballhawk on the backend would push this unit to elite. They've got $12.3M in cap room and can make this happen.

Green Bay Packers - Now this is a move I imagine would make Aaron Rodgers a happy man. The Packers drafted a CB in the 1st round in Eric Stokes, but he's no sure thing. If they brought in Howard, which would be tough given they only have $5.0M in cap space, he would form an all-time CB duo with Jaire Alexander. Those two were actually PFF's two top graded CBs last year. Do the Packers go all-in for one last dance with their stars?

New Orleans Saints - This could be an interesting one for both sides as the Saints have a CB of their own they could swap out. Marshon Lattimore is in the final year of his deal and is looking to get paid. Lattimore is a good player, but Howard is better. Would the Saints be so bold as to swap CBs and pay the superior talent? They could always keep Lattimore and just be more comfortable letting him walk and picking up a high compensatory pick the next year. Looking around at the rest of the Saints secondary, Patrick Robinson is the Saints #2 CB, but he'll be 34 years old when the season starts. Howard would represent a new guard with the Saints DBs.

Los Angeles Chargers - With $19.71M of room they've got the space. Casey Hayward Jr. and Desmond King II who were mainstays in their secondary. They drafted Asante Samuel Jr. in the 2nd round in April, but to assume he's ready to start immediately is expecting a lot of a rookie. Michael Davis is the other CB opposite him, but he's not a #1 CB and has yet to play a full season in the NFL. Veteran Chris Harris Jr. in the slot, but this unit could use an upgrade if they're in win now mode. Justin Herbert is on his rookie deal, so it's time to invest big dollars elsewhere. Hayward would make a lot of sense in a division that needs cover guys.

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Teams With Multiple 1sts Next Year

Detroit Lions - The Lions have the cap space ($17.9M) and the need at the position. A year after trading Darius Slay to the Eagles and drafting Jeffrey Okudah high, they haven't exactly seen the return on investment from Okudah so far. Outside of Okudah they've got Quinton Dunbar who is another J.A.G. and someone named Corn Elder. Not great for a division you'll be facing Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Allen Robinson. They've got two 1sts the next two years. Would they be so bold as to include a future 1st + more if they are unsure if Jared Goff is their QB of the future?

New York Jets - Gang Green is starting a 5th rounder from last year (Bryce Hall) and two 6th rounders from 2019 in Blessuan Austin and Corey Ballentine. This secondary outside of Marcus Maye lacks a lot of juice and Howard could provide that. The Jets, like the Lions also have multiple 1sts and multiple 2nds in 2022 from the Jamal Adams and Sam Darnold trades they could draw from to go along with plenty of salary cap space right now ($22.1M). Would Dolphins GM Chris Grier be so bold as to trade Howard within the division?!

Where do you want to see him go? Sound off in the comments below.