Sports

Howard practices, opens door to remain a Dolphin

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Xavien Howard is leaving the door open for the Miami Dolphins to fix his contract issues.

“It’s up to them,” Howard, an All-Pro cornerback, said on Saturday in his first public comments since requesting a trade.

Howard on Tuesday night posted an Instagram statement in which he questioned whether Miami acted in good faith on his five-year, $75 million extension signed in 2019 and made clear he’s unhappy and wants out.

“I don’t feel valued, or respected by the Dolphins,” Howard said in the statement. “Just like they can take a business-first approach, so can I.”

A core issue with the contract is it pays $12 million in nonguaranteed money in 2021, which ranks 12th among NFL cornerbacks despite Howard’s league-leading 10 interceptions in 2020.

But Howard was slightly softer in his stance when talking with Miami media after practice Saturday. His interview was less than three minutes long. Howard (ankle) was a limited participant in practice in his first action of training camp.

“Sure, I hope so,” said Howard on staying with the Dolphins on a reworked deal. “It’s a process. I’m hearing this and hearing that. Right now I’m just here, out here supporting the team.”

Asked whether he’ll play in the preseason, Howard said, “We’ll see when we get there,” but stressed he’s “always motivated” to play well. Howard is one of the game’s best at the position, with 22 interceptions since 2016 ranking second leaguewide behind Baltimore’s Marcus Peters.

Howard said his relationship with Miami starting cornerback Byron Jones is strong despite Jones playing on a bigger $82.5 million contract as Miami’s No. 2 corner, a point Howard used in his statement to build his case for a stronger deal.

Howard and his agent, David Canter, have proposed that Miami strengthen guarantees in 2021 or move money from future years into this year to satisfy the player. Miami has not moved on those offers, but coach Brian Flores said he hopes Miami keeps discussing the issue with Howard.

Asked if he’s OK being on the team if the Dolphins decide he’s too valuable to trade, Howard simply said, “I’m here.”

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