Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had a simple message for Xavien Howard after agreeing to give him the richest contract in NFL history for a cornerback:
“He congratulated me and said he’s happy to have me here,” Howard said after Tuesday’s practice, a day after signing a five-year, $76 million extension that runs through 2024.
And Howard’s response to Ross?
“I told him it’s unreal, it hasn’t hit me yet, but every day I wake up, every morning, to do my job,” Howard said.
Howard said he’s pleased the Dolphins identified him as a long-term piece in their rebuilding program.
“It means a lot to me,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff we can do. I’m just happy to be in this situation. I’m happy the deal got done.”
And if someone had told him when he was 14 that he would one day be signing a contract worth $76 million, what would he have thought?
“Man, it’s a blessing to be in this situation I am right now,” he said. “I’m just focused on improving each year. Most definitely I can get better. A lot of things I can work on to help my game and become the top corner in the league.”
Howard immediately received a $7 million signing bonus to supplement his $1.3 million base salary this season. He also will pocket a $7 million roster bonus this season before the extension kicks in. But he said he has no intention to make any extravagant purchases.
“I’m going to save it,” he said.
Safety Reshad Jones continued to sit out the team’s voluntary offseason program, but coach Brian Flores said he expects Jones to attend the mandatory minicamp June 4-6. Flores said he spoken with Jones on multiple occasions but declined to detail those discussions.
General manager Chris Grier has said Jones hasn’t asked for a trade, but his agent declined to discuss the situation. Jones’ place on the 2019 roster has been in question since the team’s purging of veterans began in February. His $13 million salary and $17 million cap number are the highest on the team. Jones on Monday posted an Instagram photo of himself working out at a local fitness center.
▪ Receiver Albert Wilson missed Tuesday’s practice while continuing to recover from a hip injury that sidelined him the final nine games of last season. Cornerback Cordrea Tankersley remains out after October knee surgery. Linebacker Chase Allen — who sustained a foot injury that landed him on injured reserve last October — also remains out.
And minor, undisclosed injuries sidelined linebacker Raekwon McMillan and tight end Dwayne Allen.
Also absent for reasons that were not explained: receiver Ricardo Louis and guard Isaac Asiata.
But receiver Jakeem Grant — who missed the final six games last season with an Achilles injury — participated in some portions of practice. Edge rusher Charles Harris appeared to be limited because of a wrist injury that requires heavy covering.
▪ Flores likes what he has seen in running back Kalen Ballage: “I’ve been very impressed with him. He’s smart, he’s talented but he has a humility about him you like. He has continued to improve every day.”
▪ Flores said the Dolphins “felt comfortable signing” former UM running back Mark Walton on Sunday — after a weekend tryout in rookie minicamp — and believes “he could help us.” Walton, released by the Bengals last month, has June court appearances scheduled for three offseason arrests.
▪ While Jordan Mills is expected to be the right tackle when the season starts, he’s not simply being gifted the job. Zach Sterup also has been getting a long look at right tackle.
“Getting a chance to play for a great organization with a great history is a blessing,” said Mills, who signed a one-year, $3 million deal.
▪ Eric Rowe, who said he took the first-team cornerback snaps opposite Howard, said the Dolphins’ system is very similar to New England’s, which has made his transition easier.
“The way practice runs, how hard we work — it’s all similar to up there,” he said.