Skip to main content

X Factors: Reaction, Tribute, What's Next

News of Howard's pending release elicited a strong reaction for teammates and opponents alike

Right before the 2024 scouting combine gets under way, news of cornerback Xavien Howard's impending release from the Miami Dolphins still merits some attention.

Howard, who was informed Friday he will be released with a post-June 1 designation when the new league year kicks off March 13, left a strong mark during his eight seasons after the Dolphins selected him in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft.

A post on his Instagram account showed a picture of himself coming out of a smoke-filled tunnel with the simple words: "Dolphin Legend."

While some may argue about "legend" being too strong a word, it's undeniable that Howard was an impact player for the Dolphins.


Howard's Instagram post from Friday had generated almost 44,000 "likes" and more than 2,300 comments as of Monday morning.

The comments came from fans expressing their appreciation for his work in Miami, but also from teammates current and former as well as players from around the league.

The list of 2023 Howard teammates who commented included Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Robert Hunt, Jevon Holland, DeShon Elliott, Brandon Jones, Nik Needham, Jaelan Phillips, Andrew Van Ginkel, Terron Armstead, Austin Jackson, Cedrick Wilson Jr., Jeff Wilson Jr. and Raheem Mostert.

Former teammates in the comments included Mike Gesicki, Davon Godchaux, Jason McCourty, DeVante Parker and Kenyan Drake, who referenced the Dolphins draft class of 2016 that featured Laremy Tunsil, Howard and Drake in the first three rounds.

The opponents from around the NFL who paid tribute to Howard included Patrick Surtain II, Kareem Jackson, Amari Cooper and Tenneee Titans star defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, who not only praise Howard but made a recruiting pitch.

"Much respect my dawg," Simmons wrote. "Come on to Tennessee my guy."

And, of course, there was Jalen Ramsey's comment on Twitter that included a shot at (presumably) 2023 Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.


Howard will leave Miami after playing eight seasons with the Dolphins, and it's no stretch to say he's among the top cornerbacks in franchise history.

His 29 interceptdions are tied for second-most among cornerbacks with Patrick Surtain, two behind leader Sam Madison — Madison and Surtain both coached Howard in recent years.

Howard's four Pro Bowl selections also are tied for most for a Dolphins cornerback with Madison, though he'd be the first to admit he had no business being selected after an injury-affected 2022 season.

However you want to shake it out, Howard belongs in any conversation of a Fab Four of Dolphins cornerbacks with Madison, Surtain, Brent Grimes (though his time in Miami was brief), Troy Vincent (also brief) and, going way back to the Super Bowl teams of the 1970s, Curtis Johnson.

Howard also will go down as one of the best second-round picks the Dolphins ever made. Interestingly, Madison and Surtain also were second-round selections, and the other ones who stand out would include Jarvis Landry in 2014 and John Offerdahl in 1986.

Lastly, an argument could be made that Howard's 2020 season was the best ever for a Dolphins cornerback after he led the NFL with 10 interceptions and finished third in the voting for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.


We analyzed Saturday morning what might happen with the Dolphins cornerback situation with Howard's departure, but what happened what's going to happen with Howard.

While injuries have slowed Howard the past two seasons, he remains a high-end, if not elite, cornerback when he's healthy and he shouldn't be lacking for suitors once he hits the open market March 13.

The one team that clearly would jump out as a potential destination would be the Houston Texans, who had a young star at the position in Derek Stingley Jr. but a question mark on the other with Steven Nelson scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.

Howard is from Houston, so the idea of joining his hometown team — with great promise moving forward after making the playoffs in the first year with head coach DeMeco Ryans and QB C.J. Stroud — no doubt would have some appeal if the price is right.