As we all know, the Eagles have a massive hole at their second cornerback position. They’ve failed to address the position in a meaningful way this offseason, with the only notable addition coming in the fourth round of the NFL Draft with the Zech McPhearson selection.
Howie Roseman could look to the free agent market for a one-year band-aid, but we’ve been down that road before and more often than not the results aren’t fruitful.
The only other option for Roseman and Co. to effectively address their glaring hole at corner this offseason is by making a trade. And it just so happens that one of the best corners in football could potentially end up on the trade block in the coming weeks.
Miami Dolphins All-Pro corner Xavien Howard is currently holding out of mandatory minicamp as he seeks a new contract. You typically don’t see players look to renegotiate a new contract with four years remaining on their current one, but it’s 2021 and nothing really surprises me anymore.
Dolphins head coach Brian Flores described it as “a unique situation.” Howard just signed a five-year, $75 million contract last offseason.
Regardless of your thoughts on Howard already asking for a new deal, it’s certainly possible that this situation goes south as we get closer to training camp. If Howard is steadfast in his stance here and the holdout continues through training camp and the preseason, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities for Miami to start waving their prized corner around on the trade market.
There are a number of teams who would surely jump at the opportunity to snag a corner of Howard’s ability, and the Eagles absolutely should be one of them.
Of course, there are the cap implications that could pose a problem on the Eagles end. But if you have this kind of opportunity, you find a way to clear the cap required to make a move. Cutting/trading Zach Ertz would be a start, and they would probably have to make one or two more moves to have enough space to get it done.
In terms of average salary, Howard is the sixth-highest paid corner in the league, right behind fellow Dolphin corner Byron Jones. Miami already has two of the top-10 highest paid corners in the NFL, if you think they’re going to bend the knee and give in to Howard’s demands you’re out of your mind.
Cap stuff aside, Howard would instantly turn this Eagles secondary into one the better units in the league. He’s that good.
Since 2018, Howard has recorded 18 interceptions. The entire Eagles secondary during that time, 19 interceptions. He’s coming off a year in which he grabbed 10 INTs, the most in the NFL. He allowed a completion percentage of 51.3 and a passer rating of 48.3 when targeted. Standing at 6-foot-1, 198 pounds, Howard is the exact type of corner Jonathan Gannon covets in his defense. A long guy who can press at the line of scrimmage and stick with receivers in man coverage.
For as much as Roseman is heralded as a trading aficionado, he hasn’t pulled off a trade of this caliber in a long time. Not only would Howard make this Eagles defense formidable, the team would instantly become NFC East contenders.