After a very public trade request, cornerback Xavien Howard appears to be on his way out of Miami. His market will be large and the Las Vegas Raiders should be involved.
The name of the game for NFL defensive backs is limiting the passing game. As such, taking the football away is paramount. This skill comes naturally to All-Pro Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard. In his time at Baylor, he racked up 14 interceptions in just 29 games. Playing in the NFL did nothing to sap this playmaking ability. Through 56 games with the Dolphins, he has 22 career interceptions including a league-leading 10 in 2020. For reference, newly signed cornerback Casey Hayward has 23 interceptions in 129 games. The Raiders defense had ten as a unit.
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In 2020, the Dolphins defense led the NFL in takeaways in large part due to Howard’s play. The Raiders ranked 30th among all defenses in this category last season. As such, the Raiders made many moves to address the defense including signing Hayward and drafting Trevon Moehrig and Nate Hobbs. Adding Howard to this defense would not only strengthen the Raiders’ defense as a whole, but it would also give them legitimacy. In its present state, the Las Vegas defense does not scare opposing offenses. They simply have not shown the ability to take the football away.
The trickiest part of acquiring Howard is what to give up in a trade. Typically, a player of this caliber would go for at the very least, a first-round pick. However, Marcus Peters, who compares favorably to Howard, has been traded twice in his career. Neither time was it for anything more than a second-round choice. No matter the cost, the Raiders need to consider this move.
Getting the ball back to Derek Carr and the offense will likely be the difference in getting back to the playoffs in 2021. No one can solve this issue as well as Howard. In addition, they will have to find the money to pay him which can be done with a Carr contract extension. If the injuries are truly a thing of the past, the Raiders should do everything it takes to get Howard to Las Vegas.
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