Contract Talk: Comparing Xavien Howard vs. Stephon Gilmore


Xavien Howard and Stephon Gilmore have been two of the leagues best when it comes to physical, savvy, ball-hawk pass defenders.

2019 defensive player of the year Stephon Gilmore led the league with 6 interceptions, two for a touchdown and 20 pass deflections along with 53 tackles during the 2019-2020 season.

Howard logged an incredible double-digit interception season, which has not been done since Antonio Cromartie in 2007, he also had 20 pass deflections and 51 tackles.

Gilmore and Howard help each teams secondary rank at the top of the league.

In 2020, Gilmore had an 11 game season cut short by a torn quadricep in December. He is currently due $7.7 million in 2021. This is the final year of a 5-year $65 million dollar contract beginning in 2017. The former DPOY of the year is currently in a contract dispute with the New England Patriots but has shown up for camp.

Gilmore feels he should be paid more than what amounts to about half of what the top NFL corners currently make.

Stephon Gilmore was key to holding the Rams to only 3 points in Super Bowl LIII.

Xavien Howard is in a similar situation with the Miami Dolphins. After showing up to the first day of training camp, Howard posted his desire to be traded on his Instagram after contract talks with his agent David Canter went quiet.

He is set to make just over $15 million this year, which ranks 6th in the NFL. This comes after Howard signed a 5-year $75 million deal in 2019, making him the highest paid player in the league at the time.

Howard has expressed his interest in wanting to become the highest paid player on his team.

Xavien Howard expresses his desire to be traded via Instagram.


Admittedly, Howard and Gilmore are two of the best players Corners in the NFL. Without them, each of their respective teams can get significantly worse, and any available replacement player would be a major downgrade.

Both players feel they deserve to make more money than they do, and each has an extremely solid case to be made.

Gilmore is still a top-level talent, and while he won’t be expected to be paid as much as X is making, he believes he deserves more than a mid-level cornerback contract.

Howard on the other hand, is coming off the best turnover performance in the last decade, and wants to be paid accordingly.

Both players have shown a willingness to negotiate new contracts and have shown up to training camp. The $50,000 unconditional fine agreed upon through the latest CBA is a key factor in their decisions to appear on day 1. This comes after each player faced a $93,085 fine for skipping mandatory minicamp last month.


There are two very large differences between the two players headed into this season.

Age is number one. Stephon Gilmore turns 31 in September, and it is rare for players at the tail end of their career to recieve big money contracts, especially at the cornerback position.

Howard on the other hand is 28 years old and seems to be in the prime of his career.

This brings us to the second largest difference, recent performance.

Howard is coming of the best season of his NFL career. Starting all 16 games, Howard posted 51 total tackles, 10 interceptions, and 20 passes defended.

Gilmore is coming off a major quadricep injury, and posted 37 total tackles, 1 interception, and 3 passes defended in his 11 games.

A unique aspect of the Howard situation is that it appears to be over more guaranteed money, and not necessarily a larger contract. Howard feels he should be paid at least as much as teammate Byron Jones, who signed a 5-year $82.5 million contract last offseason.

In retrospect, Gilmore set to make a measly $7 million in the final year of his contract. As things stand, Gilmore’s $13 million annual average has him tied for 12th with Adoree Jackson, who signed with the Giants to be their No. 2 corner. That’s nothing short of ridiculous when you look at Gilmore’s overall body of work.

Unlike Miami, where they have contingencies in place if Howard is ultimately traded, the Patriots can not afford to lose Gilmore.

Final Thoughts

The two situations with both Corners are heading in two completely different directions.

Bill Belichick remains silent on what the contract negotiations are happening with Stephon Gilmore. It’s been radio silence in Boston as recent reporting has shown a new deal is in the cards for Gilmore and the Patriots.

Out of South Florida, Coach Brian Flores has publicly stated he wants Xavien Howard on the team and believe’s there is a way to work things out with Howard.

“I think we just continue to have discussions with him, his representation, and keep the lines of communication open, continue having dialogue and, hopefully, work something out. At the same time, we’ve got 90, 89 other guys that we’ll be working with, to include X. Try to build this team and improve on a day-to-day basis, build team chemistry. That’s where most of our focus is. The X thing is something we’re having discussions about, as well.”

Brian Flores on WQAM

Both stories are worth monitoring in the upcoming days.

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