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  • Miami rewarded its rising young cornerback with a monster contract extension. Dolphins head coach Brian Flores helped develop Gilmore into football’s best cornerback in New England. Will he do the same with Howard?
By Jenny Vrentas and Gary Gramling
May 14, 2019

On the Monday Morning NFL Podcast, Jenny Vrentas and Gary Gramling discussed Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard’s new contract and bright future in Miami. Listen and subscribe to The MMQB Monday Morning NFL Podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.

GARY: If you ever lent Xavien Howard ten bucks back in the day and he never paid you back and you’ve been feeling awkward about confronting him about it, now is a good time. Howard is very wealthy. We’re waiting on the exact structure of the contract. We do know it’s $46 million in guarantees—whether that’s full guarantees or not, we know it means Howard will be a Miami Dolphin for the next couple of seasons. And this is nice for Brian Flores.

JENNY: I think it’s interesting because they've been facing all of these, Are you tanking? questions and they’ve probably hated that word—every team hates the word “tanking.” I think, more accurately, they’re just reshaping the team in their image. They’re getting rid of the guys they don’t like and they are doing things to acquire and keep players they do like.

Players like Christian Wilkins and Xavien Howard, Flores is trying to pick players that—you always hear about how the Patriots have a small draft board, right? And they have certain players that they want on their team because they fit a specific role. And I hate to use the whole New England analogy for every Belichick disciple that goes elsewhere, because I do think Flores is committed to doing things his own way. But it would be foolish to say that someone who spent his entire career in New England is not building things in a similar manner to New England, and I think they’re just picking off building blocks that they want. Howard is the kind of cornerback that New England likes: bigger, physical. A couple of years ago we saw the Patriots sign Stephon Gilmore, which was uncharacteristic. They gave him a deal that was bigger than they normally give, but they wanted an anchor at that cornerback position and I think that’s similar to Miami signing Howard.

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GARY: Three or four weeks into the season last year, it looked like Howard was going to be a breakout star and we would be talking about him as one of the top 10 corners in football by the end of the year. He was a little more up-and-down than maybe you’d want to see after that, but, look, Stephon Gilmore was a little bit rocky early on in New England. Then we all saw last year, Gilmore was the best cornerback in football. You’d think that’s within the realm of possibility for Xavien Howard, to ascend to an elite level of cornerback this year.

And when you look back at the Patriots, whether it was Gilmore and his star turn last year, or go back to when they had Darrelle Revis, when they’ve had a true No. 1 cornerback in those defenses they’ve been really good defenses.

JENNY: Like you said, you see a lot of investment on the back end because that’s so important to this scheme. And you’re right that inconsistency was the one thing with Howard; as you pointed out, that was true with Gilmore until he came to New England. The coaches there sort of challenged Gilmore to play different ways, different techniques that at first he wasn’t entirely comfortable with. So you did see that coaching take this really talented player up to the next level. And I don't think it’s crazy to think that Howard would do the same in Miami.

GARY: I think realistically it might take a year for Howard, I think 2020 is when you might see his ceiling, but this is a nice move for Miami and it's good to know Howard is going to be around for a while. He was an obvious guy they had to retain.

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