Detroit Lions and Xavien Howard feel like an incredibly unlikely match

It's easy to tie the Lions to soon-to-be former Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, but it doesn't look like an ideal match.
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Cornerback is the No. 1 need for the Detroit Lions this offseason, so speculation season before free agency starts will tie them to most anyone who is available. Some look like good fits, and some don't.

Now on that list of available cornerbacks on the free agent market , as had been expected, is Xavien Howard. According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, the Miami Dolphins have informed Howard they will release him at the start of the new league year.

The four-time Pro Bowler and two-time league leader in interceptions now becomes one of the top cornerbacks available.

By his standards, Howard is coming off a down season in 2023. Injuries limited him to 13 games, and he had just one interception with a career-worst 51.2 PFF coverage grade when he was on the field. But he still had 12 pass breakups, while allowing an 81.3 passer rating against.

2024 NFL Free Agency: Lions and Xavien Howard feels like an unlikely match

Earlier in the offseason, via Adam Beasley of Pro Football Network, Howard said he would not take a pay cut if the Dolphins asked him to. It's unknown if they did ask before telling him they were releasing him, but it was likely rendered moot if he also made it clear privately.

So it's fair to assume, after the Dolphins continually reworked his contracts to reward him, that Howard will be looking for one last notable contract as he approaches his 31st birthday this summer. He's a Houston native, and it's already out there he'd like to play for the Texans.

Howard would instantly become the best cornerback on a lot of teams, including the Lions of course. And he'd be a theoretical fit for a lot of contending teams (including the Lions, of course).

But outside of any age or asking price factors, and without getting into specifics here, Howard has some history of off-the-field stuff that may turn some teams off. It's worth wondering if the Lions would be one of those teams.

The obvious initial answer to the question of if the Lions should sign Howard is, with a h/t to Alex Reno of Pride of Detroit, "Well, if the price is right." And it's not the wrong answer. But Howard should have a strong market, and his cost will likely be driven up in kind. The Lions might be priced out, and he doesn't seem to fit the character standards they value highly.

Never say never on these kind of things. But the odds Howard becomes a Detroit Lion feel very slim.


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