Xavien Howard was the Miami Dolphins' best player in 2018. There is no debating, arguing, or discussion about it. He was Miami's only Pro Bowl representative and made 2nd team All-Pro playing in only 12 games. Howard also was tied for first in the NFL in interceptions with seven.
Oh, and he is only 25 years old (Turning 26 in July). So let's just give this man an extension so that he can lead this defense into the future.
But it wouldn't be the Miami Dolphins if it were just that simple.
Howard has missed three out of a possible 48 games in his career. He has dealt with a few injuries in his young career (Which includes two right knee injuries in 2016, knee surgery on that exact knee in 2016, and reportedly surgery on his left meniscus in 2018). That is three knee injuries in three years since joining the Dolphins. One could say it's hard to rationalize paying him top CB money (think more than Josh Norman's 5-year $75 million with $50 million guaranteed and $15 million signing bonus).
So the question remains.
Should Miami keep Howard in their plans for the future or trade him?
Fans on both Twitter and Facebook have been split on the idea of keeping a young talent with so much potential or trading him for future assets to rebuild. Let's look at some of the most recent cornerback trades and ages when traded.
In 2018, Marcus Peters (25 years old) was from the Chiefs to the Rams for a 4th round pick and future 2nd round pick.
In 2012, Aqib Talib (26 years old) was traded to the Patriots for a 4th round pick, then at 32 years old, was traded from the Broncos to the Rams for a 5th round pick.
In 2013, Darrelle Revis (28 years old) was traded to the Buccaneers for the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft and a future conditional pick (4th that could be a 3rd) at the time.
In 2012, Vontae Davis (24 years old) was traded by the Dolphins to the Colts for a 2nd and 6th round pick.
In 2005, Patrick Surtain (28 years old) was traded by the Dolphins to the Chiefs for a 2nd and 5th round pick.
All of these trades were done at different points in their career and at different ages. But they all can provide context as to what cornerback value could look like. Given that history tends to be the best indicator of the future, I'd say a 2nd and 5th would fall in line. A bonus for any team that has Howard (Including the Dolphins) is they do not technically have to pay Howard immediately.
Howard is still on the last year of his rookie contract and is set to earn a team friendly $1.3 million this upcoming season. Oh, and just as a thought provoker, the picks Howard brings in (Or Howard himself) could be used to trade up and get a future QB in both 2019 or 2020. But I would love to hear your thoughts given this info.
Next, for those of you that say he's injury prone and cant be relied upon after three knee injuries, keep this in mind: If the Dolphins are concerned about how his body will hold up health wise, what makes you think that other teams won't feel the same? Would you want Miami to trade for a cornerback that will demand that big a contract after giving up trade assets for him? My sense based off of Dolphins Twitter and Facebook is most would revolt and and turn on the organization.
Don't think I forgot about you fans who want to trade him. A thought to consider is where the Dolphins are at as an organization. In reality, there is more talent on the defensive side of the ball than offensive side. The Dolphins are hiring a defensive minded coach in Brian Flores and in his projected defensive scheme, Howard could flourish. Get Howard a solid number two along with a wiser Minkah Fitzpatrick and a healthy Reshad Jones, and the secondary could be the strength that leads this team into a successful future (remember the Legion of Boom).
The Dolphins do not have tons of talent that would start on other contending teams besides Howard, Tunsil, Jones and Fitzpatrick. Would giving away homegrown and young talent hitting his prime be wise on a roster that lacks star power be wise? I mean, it would create a huge hole that Miami would have to fill with an unknown (in addition to the other holes the team has at corner and other positions). I'm not 100% convinced that this route is wise.
This piece is not to push fans in one direction or the other. Personally, I wrote this for people to comment and share what they feel would be the path that makes the most sense for the future. Ultimately Miami will do what they feel is best for the future regardless of our feelings and opinions. But now is the time to choose.
Are you #TeamX or #TradeX.
This story was written by Carlos Camacho. Follow him on Twitter: @DolfansVoice
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