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NFL rumors: 4 teams that should trade for Dolphins corner Xavien Howard

Fansided logo Fansided 6/18/2021 Nicholas McGee
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Xavien Howard's stand-off with the Miami Dolphins may lead to a trade, here we identify four potential destinations.

Xavien Howard's time with the Miami Dolphins could well be growing short.

The two-time first-team All-Pro cornerback will stay away from Dolphins training camp, unless he gets a new contract, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (h/t Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk).

Salguero says Howard wil then request a trade, potentially dealing a huge blow to a defense looking to make further strides in 2021 having played a significant role in Miami's resurgence under Brian Flores last year, which saw the Dolphins narrowly miss out on the playoffs as they finished with a 10-6 record.

Howard intercepted a league-leading 10 passes in 2020 and also topped the charts in terms of pass breakups, registering 20 in a season in which he was unfortunate not to receive more hype as a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

As a result, Howard will not be short of suitors, with the Dolphins sure to field plenty of calls from teams interested in his services should Miami fail to reach a resolution with the former second-round pick.

Indeed, there a host of teams looking to contend in 2021 whose prospects of doing so would be significantly boosted by the addition of a corner of Howard's caliber.

But which of those franchises should make the biggest push for a corner who has racked up 22 interceptions in five seasons in the NFL?

Here we look at four teams with the need and, in some cases, the capital to aggressively pursue one of the top players in the league at his position and substantially improve their outlook in the secondary in 2021.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys were dreadful on defense last season, with teams having no trouble finding success moving the ball on Dallas through the air and on the ground.

Dallas gave up 34 passing touchdowns in 2020, fewer than only two teams in the NFL, and waited until the second round to address the cornerback position in the draft.

The physical tools of Kelvin Joseph made him an intriguing selection with the 44th overall pick but, if the Cowboys are to maximize the impact of a loaded offense that can help them contend in the NFC, they will need complementary play from the defense that a top-tier corner like Howard can provide right off the bat.

Salary cap space could be a problem for the Cowboys in terms of giving Howard a new deal were they to pull off a trade with the Dolphins. Dallas, per Spotrac, has just shy of $5.8 million in cap space.

But the Jones family has rarely shied away from the opportunity to execute a deal for a marquee player. If the Cowboys believe they can manipulate the cap to fit a new contract for Howard on to their books, then they should not hesitate to try to put together a package to convince the Dolphins to part with arguably their best defender.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders clearly understand the secondary is a problem, having traded up in the second round to take a prospect many considered to be the top safety in the draft, TCU's Trevon Moehrig.

But it's dubious at best whether that will be enough to turn around a pass defense that allowed the seventh-most yards per game in the NFL last year.

And, with Damon Arnette struggling to justify his status as a 2020 first-round pick during his rookie year, the prospect of him starting across from Trayvon Mullen in 2021 may be a daunting one for the Raiders as they enter year four of Jon Gruden's second spell as head coach and their first in Las Vegas with fans allowed in the stands.

The addition of Howard would not only give the Raiders somebody they could depend on at the cornerback position, but also an exciting defensive playmaker that should help them in their efforts to build a new core fanbase in Las Vegas following the move from Oakland.

Like the Cowboys, the Raiders are not flush with cap space — Las Vegas has under $5 million to spare — but, having recently whiffed on first-round picks, they shouldn't be shy about parting with their 2022 opening-round selection to land Howard.

Arizona Cardinals

The NFC West may be widely regarded as the best division in football, but most of the teams competing to win it in 2021 could use help at the cornerback spot.

It is the Cardinals, though, who arguably have the greatest need at the position and undoubtedly the most capital with which to strike a trade, their three division rivals each having already mortgaged their futures with blockbuster deals.

The Cardinals ranked ninth in passing defense DVOA, per Football Outsiders, in 2020, but a projected starting cornerback pairing of Malcolm Butler and Robert Alford is not one to inspire confidence and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph would surely welcome the arrival of a talent like Howard.

Arizona's hopes for their defense rest largely on the ability of veteran pass-rushers Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt to create disruption up front and present opportunities for the secondary to come away with takeaways.

Howard is a player who thrives on such chances and, should the Cardinals add him to a defensive backfield that already features All-Pro safety Budda Baker and talented nickel back Byron Murphy, they will be in a significantly better spot to make a third-year leap under a head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Seattle Seahawks

Staying in the NFC West with a team that struck a big-time trade for a defensive back last year, sending a pair of first-round picks to the New York Jets for safety Jamal Adams, the Seahawks stand out as a potential wild card should the Dolphins seek to find a trade partner for Howard.

With Tre Flowers and Ahkello Witherspoon the projected starters at cornerback for Seattle, the need for an infusion of top-tier talent at a premier position in the defensive backfield is obvious.

And, having seen his defense undone by an injured Jared Goff in the playoffs last season, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll should not lack motivation to make another aggressive move as Seattle attempts to again avoid wasting another year of brilliance from Russell Wilson.

Cap space could be an issue for Seattle, with the Seahawks just over $4.7 million under the 2020 salary cap.

Yet the Seahawks are a team in a position to push their chips to the middle of the table in search of that elusive second Lombardi Trophy.

In a division where each team continues to load up with dynamic difference-makers, do not be surprised if the Seahawks decide to part with more premium picks to add Howard to their secondary.


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