A big time corner back just hit the trade market yesterday.  Xavien Howard took to social media requesting a trade form the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday.  With a seemingly gaping hole at corner, it is natural to start to think what Steelers trade for Xavien Howard might look like.  Here are some of the pros and cons of a trade of this magnitude might bring, and howl likely this deal would be:

The Pros:

The obvious:

We don’t have to go into great detail in how adding an All-Pro corner would help the Pittsburgh Steelers on the field.  That should be pretty much self explanatory.  Just imagine a secondary with Joe Haden and Xavien Howard at corner, Cam Sutton in the slot, with  Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds at safety.  You are talking about possibly the best secondary this franchise has ever thrown out there.  A Steelers trade for Xavien Howard would make this defense the best in the league by a wide margin.


Another factor would be the obvious familiarity between Kevin Colbert and the Miami Dolphins brass.  The two made an equally big trade just two years ago when the Steelers acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick.  https://www.nfl.com/news/dolphins-s-minkah-fitzpatrick-traded-to-steelers-0ap3000001055920  Both sides should be comfortable with each other after having to hammer out such a huge trade in the past.

Replacing Joe Haden:

The Steelers will need a replacement for Joe Haden as soon as next season.  There is a very realistic scenario where this team is scrambling to find two starting corners after the 2021 campaign.  Haden just turned 32, which is ancient in corner back years.  Expecting many more serviceable seasons from him would be overly optimistic to say the least.  Then there is the fact that Haden’s contact runs out this season as well.  This team needs a corner badly this season, but will need one even that much more next season,.  Steelers still need to add another corner

The all-in theory:

It has long been speculated here at Steelers Sanctuary that this franchise is absolutely all-in for 2021.  There is a near desperate attempt to win one more Super Bowl with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.  Just look at all the contacts with voidable years this team has done to continue to save cap space.  This is something the Steelers have never done in the history of their franchise.  Making a blockbuster move like trading for Xavien Howard would fall in line perfectly with all the other actions they have taken this off-season.


The Cons:

It’s always about the money:

Xavien Howard is set to make a little over $12 million in 2021.  That would eat up all of what the Steelers currently have left in their 2021 salary cap.  Pittsburgh always goes into a season with five to six million in salary cap cushion for in season moves, which makes this problematic.  Howard of course wants a new deal, hence the trade request in the first place.  The Steelers could theoretically give him a new contract that lowers his 2021 cap charge enough to be affordable.  That would however require a significant amount of signing bonus money.

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t known as a team who throws around giant contracts.  Xavien Howard is undoubtedly looking to become the highest paid corner which would put him in the twenty plus million a year category.  Giving up significant amounts of trade assets, and then shelling out top dollar to redo a contract is something this franchise has never done.

It’s always about the money Part II:

Kevin Colbert will eventually make TJ Watt the highest paid pass rusher in the NFL.  That number will be in excess of thirty million dollars in average annual value.  Will there be enough room for two highest paid defensive players on this team under the cap?  That all depends on how the Steelers plan on replacing Ben Roethlisberger going forward.  We have seen teams load up with contracts while they have a quarterback on a rookie deal.  See the Cleveland Browns for a good example.  Problem is, this team does not have that quarterback currently on the roster.

It’s always about the money Part III:

Xavien Howard signed a contract making him the highest paid corner in 2019.  Just two years later, he is unhappy with his contract.  That is a dangerous precedent for a general manager to overlook when acquiring a player.  What’s to stop Howard from having a couple more All-Pro seasons, and then once again being unhappy with his newest deal?  This is not a player near the end of his deal who is looking to set himself up for his first big pay day.  Xavien Howard is signed through 2024 with a contract that pays him over thirteen million per season.


Trading for Xavien Howard would be a monster deal both in terms of money and complexity.  The Steelers would have to give up quite a haul to acquire an All-Pro corner.  Then they would have to tear up his current deal, and make him the highest paid corner in the league while still making him affordable in 2021.  These factors alone make a trade unlikely.  But there is something about the way this team has gone about their business this off-season that makes us wonder.  Would the “all-in”approach to this season push them towards one last big splash?  A Steelers trade for Xavien Howard would go a long way to making them Super Bowl favorites in the AFC.  Isn’t that the entire goal of this franchise for the 2021 season in the first place?