The season is over for Xavien Howard, as the Miami Dolphins prepare to shut him down for the remainder of 2019. The All-Pro cornerback suffered a knee injury in the team's 27-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football, and will head to injured reserve because of it, the team announced.
Howard did what he could to help lift the Dolphins to an upset in Pittsburgh, intercepting quarterback Mason Rudolph's first pass attempt of the game that led to the first of only two Miami touchdowns. He's coming off of a breakout season that saw him deliver seven interceptions and 12 pass deflections, an improvement over his impressive sophomore year -- wherein he reeled in four interceptions -- leading to the Dolphins awarding him a five-year, $75.25 million extension in May 2019.
Considering the team is now 0-7 with no realistic hope of making the playoffs, even if they aren't mathematically eliminated just yet, the decision to sideline Howard doesn't appear to be based simply on the severity of his injury. It's being reported the Dolphins don't believe the 26-year-old suffered an ACL or MCL injury, although it is yet confirmed what the exact issue is.
Going forward, the Dolphins would like you to believe they landed All-Pro cornerback Aqib Talib to replace Howard, having struck a deal with the Los Angeles Rams to , in exchange for a future late-round pick. In reality, however, and likely the hidden plan all along, is that the Dolphins simply gave up the late-round pick in exchange for the fifth-round pick -- because it's unlikely Talib will ever suit up in Miami.
Currently recovering from a rib injury that has him on injured reserve, although Talib is expected to be healthy at some point this season, he's also an unrestricted free agent in 2020 that has no plans on playing for the Dolphins, be it now or later. The move for Talib essentially had nothing to do with Howard, because all they truly did was the Rams a favor by taking his salary off of their books so they could use the extra money on Jalen Ramsey, and they basically received a fifth-round pick as a "thank you."
This means he's not actually a replacement for Howard, and that there isn't one, but at this point the Dolphins are simply looking forward to the draft anyway.