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Inside the Xavien Howard deal

Mike Florio explains why the NFL's main focus is to win the case against Brian Flores and why it's "very easy to lose sight" of what the league's real motivation is throughout the process.

The Dolphins ripped up the three remaining years on cornerback Xavien Howard’s deal. The new contract has been dubbed “historic” by some.

Our current goal isn’t to apply any labels, other than the truth as to what his old deal was, and what his new deal is.

Howard was due to make $39.308 million over the next three years. Here are the terms of the new deal, per a source with knowledge of the terms.

1. Signing bonus and roster bonus: $17.115 million.

2. 2022 base salary: $1.035 million, fully guaranteed.

3. 2023 base salary: $18.15 million, fully guaranteed.

4. 2024 roster bonus: $3 million, due second day of 2024 league year.

5. 2024 base salary: $15.4 million, $4 million of which guaranteed for injury at signing and becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2024 league year.

6. 2025 roster bonus: $3 million, due second day of 2025 league year.

8. 2025 base salary: $13.65 million.

9. 2026 roster bonus: $3 million, due second day of 2026 league year.

10. 2026 base salary: $15.15 million.

11. 2022-26 workout bonus: $100,000 per year.

12: 2022-26 incentives: $1 million per year, based on achieving first-team All-Pro or initial ballot Pro Bowl.

He’ll make $55 million over the next three years. Of that amount, $36.3 million is full guaranteed at signing.

The five-year, $90 million contract has an $18 million annual average at the time of signing. The new-money average analysis becomes a little tougher to apply in this case, given that he received only two more years. That said, he’ll make (if the deal is fully honored by the team) more than $50 million more than he was due to earn. So it’s technically more than $25 million per year in new money. As a practical matter, however, it’s not a $25 million per year deal. It’s a $19 million per year contract after Howard got was he badly wanted -- the cancellation of the prior deal.

And that’s significant. Teams rarely if ever replace a deal with three years remaining. The Dolphins did, without worry about the precedent it would set.

Which is smart. If a future player tries to do the same thing, the Miami response should be simple -- perform as well as Xavien Howard, and we’ll talk.