All Is Well That Ends Well

Anyone who knows me knows that there is one thing that ticks me off the most about the NFL and that’s the way it treats its contract situations with players. NFL teams love to announce these big ticket numbers in order to sound competitive or at least in line with the inflated numbers coming out of the NBA and MLB these days. However, these numbers come with one really gigantic caveat- players almost never see that money. Sounds crazy, but as most of you already know, a huge portion of the money reported in these contracts are non-guaranteed and are functions of roster bonuses that require you to be on the team’s roster by a certain date and teams can avoid paying these by releasing players prior to the deadline or holding a player over a barrel to renegotiate and reconstruct the already signed contract. In essence, take a pay cut or else face the consequences of being cut by the team and getting paid nothing at all. It’s a savage world out there, but I won’t get into all of the awful history that goes into my feelings on this particular matter.

Having said all this, I was steadfastly against what Xavien Howard was doing with his contract situation in Miami. Xavien Howard is an all-pro cornerback. One of the best professionals at his position, if not the best. He’s a shutdown corner with the hands and ball skills of a receiver. The one knock on him has been his inability to stay healthy. Football is a contact sport and injuries are not always something that players can control, so I am not saying that Howard’s lack of availability was his fault. However, I am saying that when he signed that contract extension that his agent negotiated, that was his fault. Even with his extensive injury history, the Dolphins gave him his 5 year $75 million dollar extension they knew that and they paid him anyways. They made him the highest paid cornerback in the history of the league anyways. When he missed most of the 2019-2020 season, they still cut the checks anyways. When he had some personal off the field issues, they stuck by him anyways. The support of the team that he enjoyed wasn’t conditional or prorated.

In the fall of 2020 Xavien Howard had 10 interceptions and was fully healthy for a whole season for what felt like the first time in his career and suddenly after playing the first year of his new contract, he already wanted to rip it up, sit out mandatory minicamps, pay fines, demand a new deal, and request that he be traded. Pretty eventful offseason for a guy with no leverage, don’t you think? I mean don’t get me wrong, the guy had himself a season! You couldn’t throw it in his side of the field (unless your name was Josh Allen but we will leave that discussion for another day). Then Howard crossed that proverbial line when it comes to negotiating by publicly pointing out that one of his teammates in his position group had a higher salary than his. That’s pretty much a no-no and unwritten rule between players when it comes to deal making. “Do what you gotta do to get your bag, but leave me and mines out of it,” is pretty much the creed that they abide by. It seemed like this was heading for a head-on collision wrapped in a trainwreck and topped off with an ugly ending. An organization at odds with arguably it’s best player and potential dissent in the locker room between teammates. My opinion was on the side of “honor the contract that you signed and play to earn your salary.” I don’t like it when teams cut players for not taking less than what they agreed to play for and I don’t like it when players sign contracts and then demand more money than what they agreed to play for. If I am not anything else, at least I am guilty of being consistent.

Then suddenly yesterday, destiny was averted. A compromise was struck. The Dolphins restructured Howard’s contract to guarantee more of the money included in the deal, rescinded his fines for missing minicamp, and formulated a new gentleman’s agreement to renegotiate a new deal if Howard continues to produce and be available to play games as he did last season. The team did the right thing and the player did too. What Xavien Howard realized that I was discounting in this situation, was that he had already reached the age of 28, he was coming off of his best season to date, and most of the money remaining on his contract was not guaranteed. Remember that big money reporting that the NFL loves to do that I referenced at beginning of this article? Howard knew that as well. He knew that $75 million number was not real and he would likely never see that money. He needed to get paid now. He needed to convert some of that fantasy money to reality because he also knew the average career expectancy for healthy NFL players, let alone players who have his injury history, is not very far away from the point he is right now. So Howard took a chance and he made a stand. The Dolphins recognized that too and they also realized they were not ready to lose their best defender yet either (Igbinoghene is still a wee padawan not yet ready for the trials). So both sides amicably caved, made concessions, and got rewarded. Therefore, all is well that ends well.

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Hello fellow sports fans! My name is Joseph Jordan. Welcome to our page. Welcome to our website. I hope you are as deeply passionate about sports as I am. Julien and I have spent a lot of time writing our sports opinions on Facebook over the years. … Read More>>


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