Like it or not, Byron Jones is somewhat involved in the contract dispute that has Xavien Howard's future in Miami in question.
If there were any doubts about that, they disappeared when Howard made it a point to indicate in his Instagram post requesting a trade that he was the second-highest paid cornerback "on his own team" and "it's not even close."
But if you think Jones had a problem getting dragged into the standoff between the Dolphins and Howard, a lot of it stemming from Jones' own contract, think again.
Jones actually was cool with Howard's post and he also doesn't want his cornerback partner going anywhere.
“I understand what he’s trying to do," Jones said after practice Friday. "Obviously we’d love to have him here, but there’s no hard feelings. I’m not scared of facts. The dude is the best, no question about that. Last year we gave him all the hard covers and he showed up. He not only showed up, he excelled at those too. He didn’t get cupcake interceptions. He went and got those, one hand, high-pointing the ball. He made his money. He earned it definitely.”
Now that's sticking up for your teammate.
Nobody really expected Jones to rip Howard in a media session, but that kind of support also might not have been totally expected either.
“I didn’t mind (the Instagram post) because truthfully the guy is one of the best," Jones said. "I mean, the guy had 10 interceptions last year. There’s no secret to his impact on the defense and his impact on the team. When a guy has a season like that, he’s the freaking best. So I understand what he’s trying to do. That’s my boy. We played a lot of hard snaps last year together. We bonded close together, so I understand the business.
“We’d love to keep X. Everybody knows that. It’s really that simple.”
Jones also had somewhat of a breakthrough season with interceptions in 2020, even though they obviously weren't on the same scale.
He had two picks last season, including a toe-dragging gem in the season finale at Buffalo in the first quarter before things badly went south for the Dolphins defense.
The two interceptions were his first since 2017 and they matched the combined total of his first five NFL seasons.
"Turnovers have been a big thing for me in my career that I need to kind of improve on," he said. "Took a little minor step last year but obviously the step needs to be bigger this year. That’s the fun part.
“One of the things I’m trying to do better is just getting my head around so I’m able to compete for the ball. That’s one thing I wasn’t always great at. I’m always working that. So if I do get it, it’s good, but I gotta catch the ball. We have a rule in our DB room: You miss a pick, 10 push-ups.”
Jones' work in coverage in 2020 was much better than sheer numbers might suggest because two big plays he gave up skewed the numbers. The reality was that his coverage work actually was close to, if not a par with, that of Howard.
The difference is Howard's ability to make plays on the ball. But Jones shouldn't feel bad about that because there might not be a better playmaking cornerback in the league than Howard.
Jones recognizes that, and that's why he wants to continue playing with Howard.
And he said the two have a great relationship, regardless of what was in Howard's Instagram post.
“It’s healthy, baby," Jones said. "Of course, we’re both trying to get better. Each and every day we’re in the meeting rooms talking together, we do individual meetings with the coach. It’s perfectly fine.”