Former Dolphins CB Perfect Fit for Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers could make a depth piece move that adds much more to their defense.
Nov 27, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) scores a
Nov 27, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) scores a / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
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In 2023, the Pittsburgh Steelers had one of the best defenses in the league. The Steelers finished 7th in the league in Pro Football Focus' team defense ranking. They allowed a sixth-best 306 points allowed on the season.

The Steelers also need to address the situation of cornerback. With Patrick Peterson gone, the Steelers will be fine, but they could use a veteran presence. The Black and Gold might consider looking at veteran cornerback Xavien Howard, currently a free agent.

Howard was released by the Miami Dolphins in March in a move to free up room on the salary cap. The Dolphins took a Post-June 1 cut designation -- meaning they will get $18.5 million in cap space.

Howard played for eight seasons in South Florida and was a key piece of the Dolphins' secondary. Howard is tied for fourth all-time among franchise leaders in career interceptions, with 29. Howard's 2020 season was his career best. Howard allowed just 47 receptions on 90 targets, and he allowed a quarterback passer rating of just 50.

Howard had 10 interceptions that season and finished third in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting.

Howard followed up his 2020 campaign with a solid performance in 2021 -- he earned an above-average PFF grade of 70.9 along with his third-best coverage grade -- 71.1. He had five interceptions and seven pass breakups -- only three less pass breakups than the prior season.

2022 and last season were where Howard struggled. In 2022, Howard allowed the highest reception percentage of his career -- 67.5 percent. It facilitated career highs in reception yards, over 800, and the second-highest amount of touchdowns allowed with six.

Last season, while the analytics showed another underperformance, the statistics looked better for Howard.

Howard battled injuries during both seasons, too.

Appearing on "The OGs" podcast in March, Howard said he was willing to take pay cut to play for a team that could win a championship. Howard might consider the Detroit Lions or his hometown Houston Texans.

If the Steelers can solve things on the offensive side of the ball -- and the offseason acquisitions of Russell Wilson and Justin Fields prove that they are trying -- they could soon be a contender again.

The 30-year-old cornerback could be a solid depth piece and a veteran presence for the Steelers secondary.

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Michael France

MICHAEL FRANCE