Xavien Howard shuts door on potential Miami Dolphins return

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Veteran cornerback Xavien Howard shut the door on a potential return to the Miami Dolphins with the team set to release him at the start of the new league year.

While Dolphins general manager Chris Grier left the door open for Howard potentially returning to the team, it appears that the star cornerback does not feel the same way.

By releasing Howard as a post-June 1 cut, the Dolphins will save $18.5 million in cap space for the 2024 season.

It’s a tough situation for Miami, as the team needs to make some moves to free up cap space with an extension for Tua Tagovailoa likely to occur in the near future. Miami also has some key players hitting the open market, such as defensive lineman Christian Wilkins.

It’s possible that both Howard and Wilkins are in different uniforms in the 2024 season, as there are “several” teams interested in Wilkins’ services this offseason.

Even though Howard has been a productive player for Miami, the team has other options at cornerback, including star Jalen Ramsey and one of the team’s draft picks from last season – Cam Smith. As a rookie, Smith played sparingly for the Dolphins, so it’s possible the team is looking to open up some playing time for him.

Last season, Howard appeared in 13 games for Miami, recording 45 combined tackles and one interception. He was not named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in the last four seasons.

Howard has spent his entire career to this point with the Dolphins after being picked in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the team.

The four-time Pro Bowler earned multiple All-Pro nods during his time as a Dolphin. He also led the league in interceptions in the 2018 and 2020 seasons, recording 10 picks and 20 passes defended in the 2020 campaign (both numbers led the league).

Howard should be able to garner plenty of interest as a free agent this offseason.

The Dolphins are hoping that they can fill the void left by Howard and still bring back some key players from last season’s team.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.