"A unique situation."
That's the phrase Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores used multiple times Tuesday morning when asked about Xavien Howard.
The two-time Pro Bowl cornerback and 2020 All-Pro did not attend the first day of the Dolphins minicamp Tuesday, and Flores said he wasn't sure about Howard's participation Wednesday or Thursday.
“It’s pretty clear that this is a contract situation, which we’ve talked about internally," Flores said. "That’s what I believe it is and we’ll continue to have those discussions.”
That the Dolphins had a Howard "situation" was understood throughout the offseason, but it got out in the open when Flores acknowledged that Howard was looking to renegotiate his contract one year into the five-year extension he signed in May 2019.
Howard's extension, through the 2024 season, was worth $75.25 million and made him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL at the time.
But he lost that distinction last offseason when the Dolphins signed former Dallas starter Byron Jones to a five-year deal worth $82.5 million. After recording 10 interceptions last season and finishing third in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting, Howard switched agents.
Howard's new agent, David Canter, has declined to comment on Howard's status. The cornerback stayed away from the voluntary OTAs.
“Each situation is different," Flores said. "We treat these case by case. I think at the end of the day, we’re going to keep all these kind of conversations internal. But specific to this one, it’s very unique. It’s a renegotiation of an extension, and that’s just … after one year, it’s something that hasn’t been done before. I’m not saying that we’re drawing a line in the sand. But different players set the market every year.
"We love X. Let me just go ahead and say that right now, so you guys can make sure you write that. We love him. He’s very productive. He’s a team player. He’s an important player on this team, but again unique situation. We want to keep him here, but again markets are set. Specific to Byron, the market is set differently every year and, yeah, that’s part of the conversation. But, again, that’s what makes this unique, which I’m sure everyone can understand.”
Howard has 22 interceptions in his five seasons with the Dolphins, who he joined as a second-round pick out of Baylor in 2016.
He became last season the first NFL player to reach double digits in picks since 2007 when Antonio Cromartie had 10 for the San Diego Chargers.
The Dolphins signed linebacker Jerome Baker to a three-year extension Sunday, but he was heading into the last year of his rookie contract.
"We have a player, we extend the contract, we have free agents we bring on," Flores said. "X, this is a little bit of a unique situation. I’m sure you guys will all understand this. He was extended and now we’re talking about a renegotiation of an extension, so that’s a little bit different. We’ve had a lot of discussions about that.
"Again, very unique situation. We’re talking about a potential renegotiation after one year. Those turn into longer conversations. We understand that. We’ve obviously had a lot of talks and conversations about those and we’ll continue to have those and keep those internal. But it’s a very unique situation.”