Miami Dolphins

A fresh complication for Xavien Howard in his quest to be league’s richest cornerback

Damarius Bilbo, the Atlanta-based sports agent who helped Jarvis Landry land a lucrative long-term contract with the Browns and had hoped to do the same with Xavien Howard this spring, has been suspended for three months by his industry’s governing body.

Bilbo’s offense?

“Violations of the Regulations Governing Contract Advisors,” according to a short statement on the NFL Players Association’s website.

It is believed that he was trying to poach clients from other agencies, a no-no in the business. Bilbo, who unsuccessfully appealed the punishment, has also been fined $12,500.

Why is this important to South Florida readers?

It comes at perhaps the most important time in Howard’s young career.

Howard, who has one season left on his rookie contract, is looking for a long-term, big-money deal this offseason. He told the Miami Herald last month that he wants to be the highest-paid cornerback in the league. And after leading the league with seven interceptions, earning his first Pro Bowl invite plus a spot on the AP All-Pro second team, he might get it.

“I think I deserve it,” Howard said in late December. “My numbers speak for themselves. Yes, I want to be paid like the best corner in the league.”

That would mean a long-term contract that pays him in excess of $15 million annually.

But that’s hard to get when your agent has been stripped of his power to negotiate on your behalf.

Howard is eligible to sign a new deal any time after at 4 p.m. on March 13, which is the start of the league year.

Now, it’s possible that he sticks with Bilbo and waits until the suspension has been lifted before entering negotiations with the Dolphins.

But that plan is based on a premise that could be faulty: That the Dolphins plan to keep Howard, and not trade him as part of their roster reset.

He is probably their most valuable trade asset, one that industry insiders believe could land them at least a second-round pick. The Dolphins will almost certainly draft a quarterback high either this year or next, and might need all the ammunition they can find to move up.

Then there’s factor: Do the Dolphins want to do business with Bilbo, who also represents linebacker Jerome Baker, after the Landry saga?

He ripped the Dolphins publicly a year ago over perceived disrespect. Landry was upset with how the organization handled the Landry’s contract extension, and Bilbo criticized the front office in sharp terms. The Dolphins ultimately placed the franchise tag on Landry and then traded him to the Browns, who a few weeks later signed him to a five-year, $75 million deal.

Expect other agents, particularly those who feel wronged by Bilbo in the past, to try to lure Howard from Biblo and into their camp in the days and weeks to come.

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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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