I was going to title this article: “The Steelers should change their name to the Pittsburgh Acquirers,” but I had a change of heart when I figured that those who don’t read articles (you know who ALL of you are) would just freak out and say things like, “They should change their name to what? This site has become a joke!”
Anyway, I woke up Wednesday morning to this Tweet from one of our loyal readers: “Do you think we should go into win-now mode and trade for Xavien Howard? Or will we lose too much for him?”
My first thought was in question form: “Who is Xavien Howard?” My follow-up thought was, “Did he mean Xavier Howard?”
Turns out, Xavier Howard does not exist (at least not in the football world), but Xavien Howard does. He’s a cornerback for the Miami Dolphins, and he took to social media on Tuesday to demand they trade him.
Among Howard’s grievances with the Dolphins is an insufficient contract; apparently, he wants one that would indicate they respect him as much as Byron Jones, a fellow corner they signed to a five-year, $82.5 million deal last year. Howard might have a great point, especially when you consider he’s a two-time Pro Bowler who led the NFL with 10 interceptions a year ago. Only problem is, Howard inked a five-year, $75.25 million contract in 2019. That’s not exactly as much as what Jones is making, but it’s still a lot of dough.
And he wants even more. According to my research, Howard doesn’t want A LOT more, but he evidently wants more than the substantial cash he’s already contracted to make. I’ve never been one to call myself a salary-cap wizard, but I do know that no matter how Pittsburgh would go about it, it would take some doing to fit Howard’s $12-plus million base salary he’s supposed to earn in 2021 under the cap. Even if that were to happen, what about next year’s $12.3 million base salary? While we’re at it, how about the $11.4 million Howard is supposed to earn in 2023 or the $11.6 he’s scheduled to collect in 2024?
Also, did I mention Howard wants to make even more than that?
I guess my whole point is this: if the Steelers were going to trade for Howard, 28, they probably would have just kept Steven Nelson, 28, instead of cutting him in the spring in order to open up salary-cap space for 2021. I realize Nelson is no Xavien Howard—he’s never made the Pro Bowl—but he was a pretty darn good starting cornerback during his two seasons with Pittsburgh.
The Steelers didn’t think he was valuable enough to pay him roughly $8 million in base salary this season, however. I might not be a salary-cap wizard, and Nelson may not be as accomplished as Howard, but $12 million is a lot more money than $8 million. Is the talent and production gap between Howard and Nelson big enough to even notice the difference?
Did I mention Howard wants even more money than he’s already making?
Sure, Nelson Tweeted some not-so-nice things about the Steelers before they released him, things that had to do with money and respect, but didn’t Howard just do that to the Dolphins? This isn’t official, but I believe 94 percent of Steelers fans permanently put Nelson on their bleep list after he went public with his work grievances back in March. What if Howard did something similar after he became a Steeler? Would they have to cut him?
Even if the Steelers managed to pull off a trade with Miami to acquire Howard’s services, not only would it require at least one premium draft pick (a pick in round one—let’s be honest), he’d still want a new deal once he arrived in town. It isn’t as if Howard would get off the plane in Pittsburgh and suddenly say, “Well, now that I’m away from that Jones fella, I feel so respected that I don’t need more money. Where is the closest Primanti Bros. so I can eat there and upload it to my Instagram page?” (BTW, I swear if someone posts a picture of Howard at some airport under the guise that it’s Pittsburgh International, I will disable every social media account I have forever.)
To sum it all up, the Steelers aren’t going to trade for Howard and his $12 million salary because that would be dumber than just keeping Nelson and his $8 million salary.
Now that I’m done with that portion of the article, I have a question: when will you stop wanting the Steelers to trade for and/or sign players? How many more players do you want them to have? Sure, they have more room under the cap thanks to some creative financing, but that’s rainy day stuff at this point, right? I mean, don’t you like to keep a little cash around just in case something big comes up down the road?
The Steelers went out and got their new starting right guard. They just acquired the backup outside linebacker you so desperately wanted them to have. What more do you want?
I was fine not knowing who Xavien Howard was when I woke up on Wednesday morning. Now I know way too much about him. And stop asking about Aaron Rodgers. While you’re at it, stop asking about Deshaun Watson. The Steelers are now practicing in pads at training camp. That’s the story. We have the entire 2022 offseason to talk about acquiring Rodgers, Watson and probably a bunch of other players I currently don’t know the names of.