According to NFL reporter Ian Rappoport, Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta inquired about several notable players ahead of last week’s trade deadline. That included negotiations to acquire Miami Dolphins star cornerback Xavien Howard.
The #Ravens didn’t make a trade last week, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. Among the high-profile targets was #Dolphins star CB Xavien Howard, though the complicated trade never materialized.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 7, 2021
The deal never came to fruition, as the Dolphins reportedly wanted at least a first-round pick and more. The deal would’ve only been possible if the Dolphins also paid the majority of Howard’s remaining salary, which is over $6 million.
Howard led the NFL in interceptions in 2020 with 10, the first player to do so since Antonio Cromartie in 2007. According to Sports Info Solutions, Howard was the only player with 50 or more points saved in coverage. He also led the NFL in EPA when targeted, with -24. The Dolphins play a relatively similar man coverage heavy defense compared with the Ravens, making Howard a likely scheme fit.
Baltimore lost All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters days before their season opener against the Las Vegas Raiders, which propelled fourth-year cornerback Anthony Averett into a starting role. Averett has responded well (sixth in the NFL in points saved, two interceptions and seven pass breakups while only allowing one touchdown) despite being the most targeted defender in the NFL.
With Peters recovering from a torn ACL, this trade could indicate that DeCosta is going to move in a different direction next year. Peters is entering the final year of his contract. Baltimore could save around $10 million by releasing Peters, who will be 29 years old in January.
DeCosta has used the trade deadline to go bargain shopping each of the last two years, acquiring Yannick Ngakoue in 2020 and Peters in 2019. Howard would’ve marked the third straight year that DeCosta found defensive reinforcements for a playoff run.