Xavien Howard is the center of NFL trade talk as training camp is set to begin but which teams should try to make a deal for the playmaking cornerback?
As the Miami Dolphins have been instituting a substantial rebuild, their defense has come along faster than scheduled. And a big reason for that has been the play of cornerback Xavien Howard, who led the NFL in interceptions last season with 10. While not a perfect player, Howard is a ballhawk with a supreme knack for making plays.
But Howard has become unhappy with his current contract that he signed two years ago, as reported by Michael Silver. The result has been that the cornerback has been at the center of trade chatter around the league leading up to the start of training camp at the end of July. Miami, for their part, could be willing to deal the veteran given that they signed Byron Jones last offseason and drafted Noah Igbinoghene in the first round in 2020.
So if a deal with the Dolphins is to be made, which teams should be trying to trade for Howard? These five NFL teams would make a lot of sense as eventual landing spots.
These 5 NFL teams should be calling about a Xavien Howard trade
5. Green Bay Packers – Jaire Alexander has established himself as one of the NFL’s premier corners but the rest of the position group has left a lot to be desired — hence why they used their 2021 first-round pick on Eric Stokes out of Georgia and, much to the chagrin of fans, re-signed Kevin King this offseason.
Howard would be able to come in and immediately be better than King or Stokes, also allowing them to finally move on from the former, who has been a bust as an early second-round pick. While pairing with Alexander to form a tantalizing duo, he would also allow Green Bay to let Stokes develop at something less than a break-neck pace.
4. Cleveland Browns – General manager Andrew Berry was aggressive this offseason in upgrading the secondary. Signing cornerback Troy Hill and safety John Johnson III in free agency before drafting Greg Newsome II in the first round are evidence enough of that. And if all goes well, that group should be good with Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams and Grant Delpit in the mix.
However, Williams is returning from a nerve injury in his shoulder while Newsome is still a rookie. If the Browns want to make a legitimate title run this season, they could try to maneuver a trade for Xavien Howard that would allow their secondary to have more depth and more comfort in the immediate returns.
3. Seattle Seahawks – After losing Shaquil Griffin in free agency, the Seahawks cornerback room does leave a bit to be desired. Ahkello Witherspoon still has upside as a young newcomer formerly with the 49ers and Tre Flowers has been fine, as has Pierre Desir. But the lack of overall quality, upside and depth are obvious.
Thus, a team that needs playmakers outside of Bobby Wagner on defense if they are going to compete in the increasingly difficult to navigate NFC West is paramount. The Seahawks need to make a big splash to improve the defense for the 2021 season and Howard could be the guy to do that for them.
2. Las Vegas Raiders – Speaking of teams that need a splash on defense and, specifically, in the secondary, it’s hard not to think about Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders. The franchise has invested heavy draft capital into the secondary but the returns have not been what they’d hoped thus far. There’s still hope for young players like Damon Arnette and Trayvon Mullen but nothing is certain.
In an odd offseason, the Raiders have been trying to bolster the defense in a very apparent way. However, the secondary — cornerback, specifically — has not been adequately improved for them to compete. For a team with no problem getting aggressive, trading for Howard would make the defense much more promising.
1. Dallas Cowboys – The woes of the Cowboys defense have not been anything new and the cornerback situation only furthers that. As of right now, it appears that Dallas will be relying heavily on second-round rookie Kelvin Joseph opposite Trevon Diggs at the position. That’s not a comforting proposition for fans.
Trading for Howard and then having Joseph as a rotational player as he develops, on the other hand, is a lot more attractive. We know the Cowboys have the offense to win a lot of games but it all depends on how the defense fares. Howard makes chances of success on that side of the ball much more likely.