NFL sources share what Xavien Howard’s future with Miami Dolphins may hold

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Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The future of Xavien Howard is a key component of the Miami Dolphins’ offseason, and some NFL sources are offering insight into what might happen with the defensive back.

“An NFL associate of Howard (someone who has a relationship with him but does not work for him) said his sense is that Howard is very much open to outside options and would be reluctant to take a big pay cut to remain here, but couldn’t say with certainty what he would do if asked to take a small pay cut,” wrote Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

“A source with direct knowledge said that to this point, the Dolphins have not informed Howard whether they’re keeping him and have not asked him to take a pay cut. Howard missed the final regular-season game and playoff game with a sprained foot.”

Howard posted a cryptic message to social media recently that sparked some speculation.

The former All-Pro will turn 31 years old before the 2024 NFL season. He just completed his eighth season with the Dolphins, who have been his only NFL team since he was selected with the No. 38 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Howard remains under contract with the Dolphins, but his $15.4 million salary for the 2024 campaign is non-guaranteed, which could make him a candidate to be let go. Miami reportedly is projected to be more than $50 million over the NFL salary cap for this upcoming season and also faces a decision on the future of standout defensive lineman Christian Wilkins, who is eligible for the franchise tag.

The Dolphins had a great deal of optimism about their secondary entering this past season, highlighted by the potential pairing of Howard and Jalen Ramsey under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. However, it did not reach the heights many expected, with Ramsey missing the start of the season because of injury and Howard able to appear in just 13 games.

Despite three straight Pro Bowl selections (a streak that ended in the 2023 season), Howard had some off-the-field issues as well. Prior to the season, he reportedly was accused of making secret sex videos and sharing them.

He managed just one interception for a second straight season after totaling 15 picks combined in the two seasons prior to that. The Dolphins finished the regular season 11-6 but failed to win the AFC East and were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

The Dolphins and Fangio parted ways after just one season, and the team named Anthony Weaver its new defensive coordinator. Whether Weaver will get the opportunity to coach Howard next season will be something to watch as the NFL offseason moves along.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NFL for almost three decades. He has been an avid follower of the AFC East since the days of Bob Griese and is looking forward to an exciting new era in the division.