Miami Dolphins

Howard officially among league’s best, but does he fit in Dolphins’ long-term plans?

Xavien Howard wants to be the NFL’s highest-paid corner.

He at the very least deserves to be in the top four.

Howard was named AP All-Pro second-team Friday, recognized for picking off a league-best seven passes in just 12 games.

Howard is also a first-time Pro Bowler, but it remains to be seen if he plays in the game after sitting out the regular season’s final four with a knee injury.

What is not in doubt:

Howard wants to be compensated commensurately with his ability.

He told the Miami Herald on Sunday that he wants to eclipse Josh Norman’s record five-year, $75 million contract.

So how does that fit into the Dolphins’ new rebuilding plan?

The Tank for Tua train may have left the station on Monday when Stephen Ross told reporters he wants to rebuild with young, cheap players.

Howard is one of those presently.

He won’t be, however, if he gets the contract he wants.

The Dolphins of course could simply let him play out the final year of his rookie contract, and then decide next offseason what to do. They could offer him an extension then, apply the franchise tag or simply let him walk.

The final option is the least strategic. They have a valuable asset on their roster, one that could help them land the quarterback they target either in 2019 or 2020. Howard’s trade value will probably never be higher, even with concerns about his knees after reportedly needing both scoped in his first three seasons. (Howard disputed reports that he underwent arthroscopic surgery this past season.)

Expect the Dolphins’ roster to look much different in four months. Howard is their best player. But what does a great player on a deeply flawed roster get you?

If nothing else, a spot on the All-Pro team.

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Adam Beasley has covered the Dolphins for the Miami Herald since 2012, and has worked for the newspaper since 2006. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communications and has written about sports professionally since 1996.
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