While this is certainly a move that I think is almost impossible to pull off due to cap restraints, ProFootballNetwork did include the Falcons in a recent article stating that they would be a logical fit for Dolphins cornerback and 2020 NFL interception leader Xavien Howard.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler detailed Howard’s frustration with his contract, “Miami doesn’t want to deal him, but it’s the worst-kept secret in the league that Howard is not happy with his contract.”
Currently, Howard is due $2 million less than teammate Byron Jones, whose deal is worth $14 million in guarantees in 2021. However, Howard’s $12 million is of the non-guaranteed variety. That is a far cry from what he is worth coming off a Defensive Player of the Year-caliber 10-interception campaign.
Sources tell PFN that, while there’s only a slim chance of Miami trading Howard, things could get uncomfortable for Miami if Howard’s agent starts pushing the issue. It will be very telling if Howard does not show up for next week’s mandatory minicamp.
The author, James Fragoza, agrees with me when mentioning the Falcons:
The Falcons just collected second and fourth-round picks from the Titans in exchange for Julio Jones. Thus, they have the draft capital to make a trade happen.
They are desperate, have a need at the position, and own the requisite trade pieces. So why isn’t this scenario probable?
Atlanta, as of this moment, does not have the cap space to offer Howard the contract he wants and deserves. Still, we have seen how teams can manipulate the salary cap and move players to make space.
GM Chris Grier loves himself some draft picks, and his recent track record proves he knows how to use them.
While I agree that the Falcons would make sense in a vacuum, they just recently acquired the $14 million in cap space that they need to sign their draft class. The team would have to restructure Grady Jarrett in order to even take on Howard’s deal, much less give him the extension that he wants. The Falcons haven’t seemed to eager to do that thus far. However, an extension could provide the space they need and benefit Jarrett with some extra security, assuming that he and the Falcons are interested in that. Still, with $15.3 million in dead money owed to Julio Jones in 2022, matters get even more complicated with a cap sheet that is still tight, which you can read about here. Unless Howard is willing to wait until 2023 for a big money extension to hit, which is EXTREMELY unlikely, I don’t see the Falcons pulling off a move like this. While Howard would immediately solidify a shaky Falcons secondary, the money just doesn’t make sense. All-Pros coming off of a ten interception season don’t come cheap, in terms of money or draft picks.